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Las Vegas Sands PAC no Sheldon Adelson

Political committee for casino company thin on cash

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One might reasonably assume a casino company run by Sheldon Adelson, the most generous super PAC donor of the 2012 election cycle, would sponsor a rather substantial political action committee.

Think again.

The Las Vegas Sands Corp. Political Action Committee has nearly run its account dry with less than $11,000 to its name as of Dec. 31, a new document filed with the Federal Election Commission indicates.

Unlike super PACs, which may accept unlimited contributions to attack or promote political candidates, the casino's PAC is of the traditional variety, legally empowered to accept only limited donations for the primary purpose of donating directly to political candidates. Individuals may donate no more than $5,000 per year to a traditional PAC.

Nevertheless, Sands PAC's spending during the 2012 election season is tiny compared to the more than $93 million Adelson and his family directed to various conservative super PACs ahead of November's election. It's also notably less than the spending by many other corporate PACs of similarly sized corporations, which routinely ranged deep into six- and seven-figure territory last year.

For the 2012 election cycle, Sands PAC raised more than $95,000 and spent less than $126,000, federal records show. Most of its expenditures came in the form of modest contributions to a couple dozen congressional candidates, the American Gaming Association Political Action Committee and the National Shooting Sports Foundation PAC.

It's not abnormal for Sands PAC to deplete its cash at the end of an election cycle, Las Vegas Sands spokesman Ron Reese told the Center for Public Integrity, and last year, the PAC board decided to do its heaviest spending immediately before Election Day.

While Sands PAC finances are perhaps more modest than those of comparable corporate PACs, the PAC's directors intend to replenish its coffers in 2013 ahead of "looking to support candidates that see eye to eye with us," he said.

Adelson is a member of the PAC and supports its operations, Reese said, although the PAC's fundraising decisions are "separate from anything personal" the casino mogul spends. Federal records indicate that Adelson and his wife, Miriam, together donated $18,400 to Sands PAC during the 2012 cycle.

Why is 2013 an important year for campaign finance? Dave Levinthal and Michael Beckel will answer that, and many other questions about the money-in-politics world in a live chat next Monday, Feb. 4, at 1:00 pm ET.