The entrance to the Adelson Educational Campus in Summerlin, NV is a shining glass dome. We visited the private Jewish community school the Friday before the state's caucus. (Photo courtesy of adelsoncampus.org)
LAS VEGAS — Media and punditry buzz over Sheldon Adelson hit a crescendo this week. Time, then, for us to get an insider’s view of the impact of this multi-billionaire casino mogul and entrepreneur — literally.
We did, thanks to a UW alum in the desert.
Adelson is the multi-billionaire casino mogul who has bankrolled the Newt Gingrich campaign with millions of dollars in super PAC donations. He has a reach that is far and wide in Las Vegas.
We decided to go to a place that has received a great deal of attention: the Dr. Miriam & Sheldon G. Adelson Educational Campus (AEC), where the highest-profile Republican caucus in the state was held last night, after other caucus sites were closed, for citizens whose religious faith precluded them from caucusing during Saturday daytime.
What we found was not Adelson, but a Jewish community centerpiece.
UW Election Eye colleagues David Domke, A. V. Crofts and I drove north from downtown, to an area of gated communities and tan, Spanish-style buildings. This had manicured written all over it, and I questioned if we would be able to enter the campus. Recollections of my own time at a Jewish Day School in Bellevue told me to expect a protective fence.
And we found one, a tall, strong fence, with a security guard in front of it. With a school logo on his jacket, the guard asked to see our credentials. He crosschecked the schedule of visits — the three of us knew we weren’t on it, and we braced ourselves to be summarily dismissed. Not finding our name, the guard called into the school to check if someone there was expecting us. That was going to be another no-go, we knew.
“We have about a 30 percent chance of getting into this place,” Domke said. I thought this was wildly optimistic.
Soon an employee emerged from behind the fence and curtly told us that we did not have an appointment, and informed us in no uncertain terms that we would not be entering — unless we wanted to return for the public caucus.
Domke asked if there was any possible way to talk to someone else. The guard mentioned a name and said we could call her. He did not offer a phone number, but I had it. Domke dialed, and while he did, I snuck away to snap whatever photos I could of the elusive school. We would be leaving in about 60 seconds, I figured, so I’d get what I could.
Moving along the tall shrubbery, I caught glimpses of the buildings inside. A glass dome, artfully flanked by palm trees, marked the school’s entrance. In front of the doors, twin metal doves arched their wings skyward atop an outdoor statue. As I contorted to try to get the best photo angle of the flying Israeli flag, Domke called me over.
We were going in.
It turns out that the school’s Director of Development is a 1997 University of Washington graduate. When we agreed to focus on the school and not the caucus, she agreed to give us 10 minutes, but with no quotes on the record.
She ended up giving us 45 minutes, a tour, and a recorded interview.