Business giants piled cash into GOP Senate super PAC in election's final days

Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.
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A super PAC pushing for a Republican Senate majority saw a fundraising rush in the U.S. election's final days, partly driven by GOP megadonors from the business community who were wary of then-candidate Donald Trump.

The Senate Leadership Fund raised $39.7 million from Oct. 20 to Nov. 28, just shy of 40 percent of its haul for the entire election cycle, according to a Federal Election Commission report filed Thursday. All of those donations came by Nov. 7, the day before the election.

Billionaire Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam each donated $7.5 million on Oct. 24 for a total of $15 million. Billionaire Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman contributed $2.2 million on Oct. 25, while hedge fund manager Paul Singer of Elliott Management chipped in $2 million a day later.

It also received $9.2 million from One Nation, a 501(c)(4) sister organization that does not have to disclose its donors.

The haul from business giants came as Republicans looked to cling to a Senate majority as polling showed an advantage for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the potential for a Democratic Senate takeover. But a better-than-expected turnout for Trump propelled him to a win and helped Republicans keep control of both houses of Congress, with Democrats gaining only two Senate seats.

The Senate Leadership Fund reported about $38 million in independent expenditures, or political communications for or against a particular candidate, during that period. It bought media opposing Democratic candidates in key states including Pennsylvania, Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Nevada and Missouri.

Democrats only beat Republican incumbents in New Hampshire and Illinois.

The group initially announced in late October that it would put an additional $25 million into Senate races.

Adelson and Singer, huge Republican donors in the past, shied from Trump in this cycle but still contributed to other Republican causes. Singer, who once said Trump's policies would lead to a global depression, has warmed to him more since his election. He attended a fundraising breakfast for Trump this week and plans to donate to his inauguration.

Schwarzman, who has been less active as a donor than Adelson or Singer, will head a forum that will advise Trump on business policy.

A Democratic PAC, the Senate Majority PAC, raised $18 million in that same period, less than half of its Republican counterpart. It spent just over $23 million on independent expenditures.

— NBC News' Leigh Ann Caldwell contributed to this report