NEW YORK – A US federal judge on Monday threw out billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s
libel suit against the National Jewish Democratic Coalition.
brought in August, alleged that the NJDC libeled Adelson when the NJDC filed a
petition on their website asking Republicans – specifically former presidential
candidate Mitt Romney – not to accept campaign contributions from Adelson during
the 2012 election.
The NJDC said in their petition that Adelson, the
chair of Las Vegas Sands Corp., had approved of prostitution in his Macau
casinos, and based their accusation on media reports.
Judge Paul Oetken
wrote in his decision that the “defendants’ publication is protected as a fair
report… which was properly attributed,” and that the publication was protected
under Nevada’s anti-SLAPP statute, which stands for “strategic lawsuits against
public participation,” and is intended to prevent lawsuits with an intent to
“censor, intimidate, and silence critics.”
The judge also awarded
lawyer’s fees to the NJDC, to be paid by Adelson. Adelson was suing for $10
In the 2012 election cycle, Adelson ultimately donated $10
million to the pro-Romney super Political Action Committee Restore Our Future,
to a PAC supporting Gingrich and $5m. to a PAC supporting current
House Speaker John Boehner, the Huffington Post reported.
In a statement
released when the suit was filed, the NJDC said it “will not be bullied into
submission,” and that referencing “mainstream press accounts examining the
conduct of a public figure and his business ventures is wholly appropriate.
Indeed, it is both an American and a Jewish obligation to ask hard questions of
powerful individuals like Mr.
Adelson, just as it is incumbent upon us to
praise his wonderful philanthropic endeavors.”
The NJDC eventually
removed the petition, but David Harris, the former CEO of the NJDC and one of
the three named defendants in the suit, told The Jerusalem Post after the
decision was announced that he was proud of his organization’s decision to stand
by its words.
“I’m thrilled with this decision,” he said in a telephone
conversation. “I’m particularly proud that the federal judge vindicated our
position, and I’m especially gratified that he recognized that this was nothing
but a SLAPP suit.”
Neither Adelson nor the Las Vegas Sands Corp.
responded to a request for comment, nor did Prof. Alan Dershowitz, who wrote an
op-ed in the Post defending Adelson just a month before Adelson filed
The NJDC also announced on Monday that Rabbi Jack Moline will
assume the executive directorship of the NJDC in January 2014. Marc Stanley,
chair of the NJDC board of directors and another named defendant in the
now-defunct Adelson case, said Moline’s interfaith expertise will “make a
terrific leader” for the NJDC.