Source Check

Published — November 3, 2016

Pro-Trump super PAC back in the fray — this time in Spanish

Sheldon Adelson’s money is helping Future45 target Latinos in battleground states


Republican super PAC Future45 is back, with fresh cash from casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and Spanish-language ads attacking Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for past remarks she’s made about illegal immigration.

The new Spanish-language ads urge Latino voters to think twice about voting for Clinton. They also serve as an opportunity for Republicans to reconnect with Latino voters at a time when GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has alienated many of them with his comments about Mexicans and immigrants.

The ads are running on the Spanish-language channels Telemundo and Univision nationally, as well as in presidential battleground states such as Arizona, Florida and Nevada. They include clips of Clinton, in 2003, describing herself as “adamantly against illegal immigrants” and saying “people need to stop employing illegal immigrants.”

The ads’ sponsor

As a super PAC, Future45 can accept unlimited contributions from donors that it must then disclose to the Federal Elections Commission.

The Republican group came out swinging in 2015 with money from hedge fund managers including Paul Singer and Ken Griffin.

Another top funder is Joe Ricketts, founder of online brokerage TD Ameritrade and patriarch of the family that owns the Chicago Cubs baseball team, which defeated the Cleveland Indians early Thursday morning to win its first World Series since 1908.

Money in

Ricketts donated $1 million to Future45 in late September — something that would have seemed implausible just a few months ago.

That’s because Ricketts and his wife, Marlene Ricketts, gave nearly $6 million to an anti-Trump super PAC during the GOP presidential primary, prompting a Twitter insult from The Donald himself.

Ricketts paired his latest contribution with a blog post called “Why I’m supporting Future45.” It read, in part: “This election comes down to a binary choice between extending the failed Obama-Clinton economic policies and believing that Messrs. Trump and Pence bring fresh thinking to how we can reignite the engines of economic opportunity.”

Adelson, the Las Vegas casino magnate, and his wife, Miriam Adelson, each donated $5 million to Future45 in September, according to campaign finance records.

And earlier this week, Adelson was reported to have committed an additional $25 million to Future45.

That appears to be on top of money Adelson has reportedly infused into Future45’s sister nonprofit, the 45Committee. (As an issue advocacy organization, the 45Committee may legally keep its donors secret as long as it doesn’t make electoral politics its primary purpose.)

Other Future45 donors include Joe Craft, the CEO of coal producer Alliance Resource Partners ($750,000) and Petco Petroleum Corp. owner Jay Bergman ($500,000).

Money out

The group spent about $730,000 on media and advertising early in the 2016 presidential race before going dark in February. Its previous ads hit Clinton’s record in the Middle East and blamed Clinton for the rise of the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria.

Filings with the Federal Election Commission show Future45 was largely inactive from February until September.

Future45’s chairman, Ron Weiser, left in May when he was named a vice chairman of the Trump campaign fundraising committee.

Now flush with 11th-hour cash, Future45 announced this week a new $10 million advertising campaign to capitalize on the “bombshell” dropped by FBI Director James Comey, when he disclosed the agency was looking into new emails that might be related to the case against Clinton.

And Future45 is spending at least $1.5 million on its Spanish-language ads.

Why it matters

Trump has not aired a single Spanish-language ad, according to data provided to the Center for Public Integrity by ad tracking firm Kantar Media/CMAG. So he certainly could use the outside help in a late bid to appeal Spanish speakers.

Through Oct. 19, Trump’s campaign and the super PACs supporting it had raised $312 million — compared to $702 million raised by Clinton and her super PAC allies.

The Republican outreach to Latino voters, in particular, makes sense win, lose or draw, Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, a political science professor at the University of Texas, told the Center for Public Integrity.

“Latinos that are closer to the immigration experience and closer to Mexico tend to be more conservative,” she said. “So Republicans are saying ‘hey, remember there’s a Republican party [that shares Latinos’ socially conservative values].’”

Officials at Future45 did not respond to requests for comment.

This article was co-published with NBC News.

Read more in Money and Democracy

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