Donation to GOP wrongly sent to Pa.

Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson's national gift was transferred to aid Corbett's race.

Posted: June 12, 2014

The Republican Governors Association transferred nearly $1 million to its Pennsylvania political action committee from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a blunder that appears to breach the state's gaming act, records show.

"We made it crystal clear from the beginning that any contributions that we made could not be allocated to Pennsylvania," Ron Reese, an Adelson spokesman, told The Inquirer.

Pennsylvania law bars casino owners and executives from giving to candidates, political parties or committees. Adelson chairs the Las Vegas Sands Corp., which owns a casino in Bethlehem.

On Dec. 31, Adelson donated $988,000 to the RGA's Pennsylvania PAC, records show. The PAC is Gov. Corbett's largest contributor so far in his reelection bid.

The money did not flow directly to the Pennsylvania PAC. Instead, he made a $1 million donation to the RGA's national organization in Washington, according records filed with the IRS. The RGA then sent almost all of that money to the state organization, according to state records.

RGA spokesman Jon Thompson confirmed that in an e-mail Tuesday night.

"The RGA has transferred the donation out of the Pennsylvania account. It's clear Democrats are desperate to talk about anything other than Tom Wolf's failed record," Thompson wrote.

Last week, Thompson said in an interview that donors to the national organization don't know which Republican governors race their money will benefit.

Spokesmen for the Pennsylvania Department of State and Gaming Control Board declined to comment on the legality of Adelson's donation.

But it raised eyebrows among campaign finance experts in Pennsylvania.

Adam Bonin, a Philadelphia lawyer who specializes in campaign law and often works with Democrats, said finance reports should reflect the donor's intent.

Barry Kauffman, executive director of the watchdog group Common Cause, called the donation "very troubling." He noted that Adelson is behind a larger push to ban online gambling in states including Pennsylvania.

"The gambling entities are banned from contributing for a variety of reasons," Kauffman said. "They have enormous amounts of wealth that they can drop into a campaign at any time. Their money carries enormous influence."

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