Republican megadonors Sheldon and Miriam Adelson attended a signing ceremony with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in Israel Monday, according to a statement from the governor’s office.
DeSantis signed a memorandum of understanding between between Florida Atlantic University and Ariel University in a ceremony attended by the Adelsons. The couple was not listed as members of the DeSantis delegation.
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The universities will develop exchange and research opportunities for scholars and students.
DeSantis, who took office in January, has promised to be “the most pro-Israel governor in America,“ and the Israel trip, his first trade mission as governor, is part of a Republican appeal to the state‘s Jewish voters going into the 2020 presidential election.
The Florida effort is part of a larger GOP offensive aimed at breaking the Democratic Party’s hold on the Jewish vote and, in the process, shoring up the conservative evangelical base.
Adelson money is fueling that effort. In April, the board of the Republican Jewish Coalition, which receives substantial funding from the casino executive, met at Adelson’s Venetian resort, where they were briefed on plans for a $10 million-plus blitz geared toward attracting Jewish support for President Donald Trump.
Adelson has long been a DeSantis supporter and gave more than $800,000 to the governor’s 2018 campaign. During that same cycle, the billionaire donated $5 million to the Republican Party of Florida, which was heavily involved in the DeSantis general election campaign.
DeSantis was nicknamed the “billionaire whisperer” by a Republican fundraiser because of his close relationship with top party financiers like Adelson.
DeSantis is scheduled to meet with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later this week.
Mark Caputo and Matt Dixon contributed to this report.