WASHINGTON – Major Republican party donor Sheldon Adelson is suing the National Jewish Democratic Council for libel.

In a suit filed Wednesday, Adelson claims the NJDC made “maliciously false and defamatory statements” in press releases and a petition drive referencing outstanding federal investigations and civil suits against the casino mogul.

The suit specifically charges that the NJDC “conveyed to the public that Mr. Adelson personally approved of and profited from prostitution” in resorts that he owned. It further accuses the NJDC of seeking “to advance their perceived political interests by assassinating Mr. Adelson’s character, punishing him for exercising his right to make monetary contributions to political causes and candidates of his choice, and demeaning him within the Jewish community.”

He is seeking $60 million dollars in compensatory and punitive damages.

In July, the NJDC called on the GOP and presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to refuse what it termed “tainted” and “dirty” money from Adelson – who has given double-digit millions to Republican campaign efforts – and released a petition for supporters to sign.

The organization cited several ongoing cases involving Adelson, and the lawsuit takes particular exception to the NJDC allegation that Adelson “reportedly approved of prostitution.” According to the suit, the report came from a “disgruntled” former employee and was entirely false. That employee made the statements during his own suit against Adelson.

Within a week of releasing the petition in July, and following criticism from some quarters about the attacks on Adelson, the NJDC decided to take down the petition.

“We don’t believe we engaged in character assassination; we stand by everything we said, which was sourced from current, credible news accounts,” NJDC CEO David Harris and chairman Marc Stanley said in a joint statement at the time. They attributed the decision to end their campaign to the Jewish principle of maintaining peace in the community.

In response to Adelson’s lawsuit against them on Wednesday, the NJDC defended its actions.

“We know that we were well within our rights,” the group declared, adding that the organization would defend itself “as long as necessary.”

“We will not be bullied into submission, and we will not be silenced by power,” the group charged. “This is not Putin’s Russia, and in America, political speech regarding one of the most well-known public figures in our country is a fundamental right.”

The lawsuit also references free speech issues, saying that while Adelson supports open debate on political issues, the alleged malicious defamation “crossed the threshold from constitutionally protected speech to defamation of a public figure designed to suppress speech.”

The lawsuit, which personally names Harris and Stanley along with the NJDC, also notes Adelson’s prolific charitable giving.

Much of those contributions have been to Jewish causes in America and Israel.

The lawyer who filed the suit referred The Jerusalem Post to Adelson’s media representative, who did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger