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
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.
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
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.”
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.