Daily Kickoff: Mystery buyer of Las Vegas newspaper is Sheldon Adelson | US denying security clearances due to Israeli ties | Zell predicts recession

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TOP TALKER — VEGAS HAYOM: “Yes, Sheldon Adelson Bought The Las Vegas Review-Journal” by Dan Primack: “What remains unclear is why Adelson has refused to come forward. One possibility is that Adelson wanted his anonymity to last only through last night’s debate — before which he huddled privately with Donald Trump — so as not to become a distraction. But, if that were the case, an announcement likely would have been made by now.” [FortuneWSJ]

BACKSTORY: “Adelson son-in-law orchestrated family’s purchase of Las Vegas Review-Journal” by James DeHaven: “Patrick Dumont, who is listed on the website of Las Vegas Sands Corp. as the company’s senior vice president of finance and strategy, put together the deal at the behest of his father-in-law, the chairman and CEO of the casino operator. Dumont, a 41-year-old from New York, in 2009 married Sivan Ochshorn, a daughter of Adelson’s wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, from a prior marriage. Sivan Ochshorn Dumont runs the Israel Hayom, which is owned by the casino mogul.” [ReviewJournal]

Brian Stelter: “Adelson was in the audience at CNN’s GOP debate — held inside the Venetian Theatre that he owns — so I approached him during a commercial break. Adelson initially smiled and said “no comment” when I asked about the Review-Journal. Then I pressed for a yes or no answer about whether he is an investor in the paper. I thought his bodyguard might shoo me away. But he seemed happy to talk. He repeatedly said “no,” saying at one point, “I have no personal interest,” which made me wonder if he was leaving some wiggle room in his answer… Adelson also wondered aloud about why the sale was getting so much attention, since, as he put it, “there are hundreds of local daily papers.”… Then it was time for the debate to resume.” [CNNMoney]

JNS Connection: “News + Media manager Michael Schroeder has declined to disclose the company’s investors… Schroeder, the only public face of News + Media, has been associated with Russel Pergament. Both were executives at BostonNOW, a defunct free daily newspaper in Adelson’s hometown. Pergament, BostonNOW’s publisher and CEO, is CEO of NAN Holdings, a Massachusetts venture capital fund that helped finance the startup of Jewish News Service. JNS has an exclusive agreement to distribute content from Israel Hayom, an Israeli newspaper owned by Adelson.” [ReviewJournal]

ADELSON PRIMARY: Jon Ralston tweets — “Trump met with Adelson before the debate. I’m told Adelson pushed him to say no to a 3rd party run. During debate, Trump did that. Hmmm.” [Twitter]

“Will Immigration Tip Sheldon’s 2016 Scale?” by Jacob Kornbluh: “Unlike previous debates, Cruz, and Senator Rand Paul, took it directly to Rubio on his past stance in supporting a legal pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants… Since Cruz and Rubio are both very pro-Israel, Adelson could look towards other issues to tip the scales. And it seems that on the issue of immigration, Rubio and Sheldon share similar views. In an Op-Ed penned for Politico Magazine in 2014, Adelson wrote, “While I do not practice or promote illegal behavior, the reality is that 11 million illegal immigrants are currently in this country. Poll after poll shows the majority of Americans support immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship. So, let’s put the political nitpicking aside and deal with the situation.”” [JewishInsider]

“Why Trump and Cruz Are Closer to Israeli Hawks Than Marco Rubio: They share Netanyahu’s cultural pessimism about the Islamic World” by Peter Beinart: “Republican Jewish hawks, both donors and foreign policy experts, generally distrust Trump and Cruz. They don’t think Trump knows what he’s talking about. And they suspect that Cruz will say whatever it takes to win… But ironically, the same cultural pessimism that alienates many Jewish hawks in the United States aligns Trump and Cruz with Jewish hawks in Israel. Israeli hawks generally prize stability.” [Haaretz]

HEARD LAST NIGHT: Rubio predicting to the crowd of supporters at a fundraiser hosted by Paul Singer in NYC that the Carolina Panthers will defeat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. Question is how that prediction will play in the neighboring states of New Hampshire and South Carolina?

We’re told — by three sources in the room — that Singer’s fundraiser raised over $1 million, the largest amount for Rubio in a single event yet. New York State Assembly Member Nicole Malliotakis, also NY State Chair for Rubio, tweeted pictures of the event which also featured the New York Yankees’ Mark Teixeira, Dan Senor and Cliff Asness. [Pic]

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, Ted Cruz attended a fundraising reception hosted by Michael Burstein, Mitch Langstein, Michael Zislis, Carla Sands, and Audrey & Frank Lowman in Manhattan Beach.

2016 WATCH: “Will GOP candidates’ strikingly hawkish stances alienate swing voters?” by Philip Rucker, Robert Costa: “Using bellicose language at a moment of pitched voter anxiety, many of the candidates committed themselves to a confrontational set of policies that, while energizing conservative activists, could prove difficult to carry out internationally and pose the risk of a backlash from war-weary swing voters next fall.” [WashPost]

TOP TWEET: Jeffrey Goldberg — “Saw Mayor Bloomberg in the West Wing lobby today and asked him if he was measuring drapes. Then I realized he has people for that.” [Twitter]

Why Mike Was There: “President Obama met with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as part of the Administration’s continuing push to address gun violence in America. Additionally, the President thanked Mayor Bloomberg for his leadership as UN Special Envoy for Cities and Climate in helping to achieve the historic climate agreement in Paris on December 12th.” [WhiteHouse]

TOP OP: “A Security Concern Due to Divided Loyalties: A dentist wants to serve America’s military. But having a mother in Israel can be disqualifying” by Bret Stephens: “In the lexicon of anti-Jewish slurs, “divided loyalties” has such a notorious history that it’s surprising to see it make its way into a formal government document. Avi Schick, a partner with the Dentons law firm, says that when he first heard that a Naval employee could lose his job just for having relatives in Israel, he was so skeptical that he promised to take the case pro bono if the facts turned out to be true. “And here we are,” he tells me.” [WSJ]

Avi Schick tells JI… “We would like to believe this can’t be happening in 2015, but unfortunately it happens frequently. Over the past decade there have been more than 100 reported clearance denials to employees of government contractors because of ties to Israel. And that doesn’t include any of the cases where military employees were denied clearance or when contractor employees don’t have the means or the stomach to fight the denial. What that means is that what happened to Dr. Pincus was not an isolated incident, but rather part of a systemic problem.”

“U.S. Intensifies Bid to Defund Hezbollah” by Devlin Barrett: “What you’re seeing now that is new, and not just by the United States, is a more robust effort around the world to make it more difficult for Hezbollah to engage in criminal conduct,’’ said Matthew Levitt, a former Treasury Department official now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. [WSJ] • “Obama to sign bill targeting Hezbollah financing” [JPost]

“Grayson bashed Iran oil deals but profited from Iran oil partner’s stock” by Marc Caputo: “Democratic Senate candidate Alan Grayson has bragged about cracking down on firms that profit from Iranian oil, but he quietly made as much as $1 million by investing in one of those very companies.” [PoliticoFlorida]

**Good Thursday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI].  Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email editor@jewishinsider.com**

BUSINESS BRIEFS: “Sam Zell Says Recession Likely in Next 12 Months” [Bloomberg] • “Israeli Prime Minister Signs Landmark Gas Deal” [NYTimes] • “Supermodel Bar Refaeli investigated for tax evasion in Israel” [TheGuardian] • “Kuwait Airways Drops New York-London Route After U.S. Orders It Allows Israelis to Fly” [Haaretz• “Israeli Start-Ups in Silicon Valley” [Bloomberg

SPOTLIGHT: “Original developer of New York Wheel says he’s been improperly shut out of project” by Katherine Clarke: “Meir Laufer, who chairs the Wheel’s board of directors, says he’s being sidelined from his own project and discriminated against by the project’s other investors, who allegedly say his Hasidic image is bad for business. In papers filed in November in New York State Supreme Court, Laufer claims that investors, including the Feil Organization, investment czar Richard Marin, BLDG Management’s Lloyd Goldman and jeans mogul Joseph Nakash, keep excluding him from investment and management decisions and colluded to improperly dilute his stake in the Wheel.” [RealDeal]

MEDIA WATCH: “The Forward’s CEO salary survey: Good statistics, questionable economics” by Jared Sichel [JewishJournal]

“What Israel Tells Us About Affirmative Action and Race” by Sigal Alon: “The Israeli model of affirmative action does achieve widespread diversity because it considers several aspects of disadvantage. In addition to increasing geographic diversity, the program increases the number of students who are new immigrants and who come from poorer families and poorer neighborhoods. But it achieved these goals at the price of ethnic diversity.” [NYTimes]

“Boycotting the boycotters: California’s legislature set to lead the way?” by Jared Sichel:“Assemblyman Travis Allen’s bill, if passed and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, would direct the California Public Employees’ Retirement System and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System to divest from any investments they have in companies that boycott or engage in political or economic “discrimination against Israel.” Allen, a Christian, has attended numerous Jewish and pro-Israel events in recent months, including in Washington, D.C., and he supports a number of pro-Israel groups.” [JewishJournal]

SPORTS BLINK: “American football prepares Israeli teens for military combat” by Aron Heller: “A growing number of native-born Israelis have taken to the army-like strategy, camaraderie and collisions of the gridiron and turned America’s Game, once a niche expat activity, into a popular fixture in the Holy Land. Some 2,000 Israelis now play the game, thanks in large part to the support of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.” [AP]

DESSERT: “Waldorf Astoria in Jerusalem is hoping to be victorious in the hotel chain’s global culinary competition” by Amy Spiro: “Waldorf salad. Eggs Benedict. Thousand Island dressing. You might not even realize that these signature dishes – which have taken their place in culinary gospel – are creations of the famed Waldorf Astoria hotel chain. Now the global luxury brand is planning to launch its next big culinary creation and enlisting help from its locations around the world, which include Jerusalem… The winning dish will be added to the menu at every Waldorf Astoria hotel in the world. Jerusalem’s dish: “The Seven Species” – smoked eggplant-crusted sea bream alongside herbed bulgur and pomegranate with a cream of tehina sauce.” [JPost]

INBOX — “Congrats to Abby Cable, Assistant Director of Policy and Government Affairs (PGA) at AIPAC, who took her last graduate school final for her joint MBA and MA degrees this week.”

BIRTHDAYS: LionTree CEO Aryeh Bourkoff turns 43… Upworthy’s Eli Pariser turns 35… Daniel Ensign…

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