Nathan Deal goes to Vegas as rumors of Sheldon Adelson meeting swirl

Credit: Greg Bluestein

Credit: Greg Bluestein

Gov. Nathan Deal is in Las Vegas Sunday to address Republican National Lawyers Association. Left unsaid is whether he will also meet with one of his party's biggest benefactors, Sheldon Adelson.

His team won’t confirm or deny whether the governor will huddle with the casino magnate or his representatives while at the conference at the Venetian Hotel, which Adelson owns.

But his allies have reason to believe that Adelson, who almost single-handedly floated Newt Gingrich's 2012 presidential campaign , could chip in.

The billionaire has given tens of millions to pro-Israel groups over the years, and started a free daily newspaper in Israel known for hawkish views.

Deal has meanwhile steadily stepped up his support for Israel, including a June trade mission to the Holy Land and a recent an op-ed he wrote with former U.N. ambassador John Bolton on Georgia's collaboration with the Israeli government. His office also said last week it was in the process of increasing the state's investment in Israeli bonds.

But Deal’s allies privately say that an Adelson boost may hinge more on the governor’s opponent. Democrat Jason Carter is the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, whose outspoken views on Israel's treatment of Palestinians have upset many in the Jewish community.

The elder Carter recently wrote that Hamas, a militant group at the heart of Israel's monthlong conflict with Gaza, should be recognized as a legitimate "political actor." His grandson has tried to distance himself from those positions by, among other moves, issuing a white paper that opposes boycotts or divestiture movements against Israel.

We are told, by the way, that no matter the outcome of this weekend's events, Deal is still opposed to the expansion of gaming.

The event is billed as the premiere training for Republican lawyers on election law and Deal is a keynote speaker. Meanwhile, Democrats poke fun at Deal's appearance at the conference - which offers attorneys ethics credit for their continuing education requirements - with this purported "leaked" copy of his speech.