Miriam Adelson was one of seven individuals to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, on Friday.
The White House lauded Adelson the as a “committed doctor, philanthropist, and humanitarian,” but not everyone believed the Israeli-American physician — known best as a leading GOP megadonor alongside her husband Sheldon — was deserving of the exclusive jewelry.
NBC’s Robert Schlesinger noted that the Adelsons gave more than $20 million to Trump’s 2016 campaign, saying Trump’s decision “perfectly captures the crassly transactional nature of Donald Trump and his presidency.”
Paul Krugman of the New York Times ripped the decision, calling it an “insult to people who received the medal for genuine service.”
Between the two, the wealthy couple was the top contributor to Trump’s campaign, excluding Trump himself. They also chipped in $5 million toward Trump’s inauguration.
That appeared to be enough to earn access to the President, as Sheldon was reportedly influential in Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
Still, the Adelsons were huge spenders long before the Trump era began. Between the 2012 and 2018 election cycles, they gave approximately $295 million to GOP causes.
Despite reclaiming the top donor spot in 2018, the two didn’t have their most successful election this time around. They donated a combined $50 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund, which spent more than $137 million against House Democrats but lost a majority of races it focused on during the general election.
Adelson wasn’t shy about touting her conservative ideals in a statement from Las Vegas Sands Corp., a massive casino and hotel company owned by her husband.
“Together, my husband, Sheldon, and I have dedicated our lives to freedom: to a free market that benefits the greater good and to philanthropic endeavors that succor those suffering from poverty and disease,” Adelson said.
The Adelsons are known best for their political activity and support of Israel, but their foundation donated more than $110 million in grants, mostly for the purpose of medical research, from 2011 to 2015.
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