WASHINGTON – Jewish Republicans and Democrats traded barbs Friday over the propriety of taking money from casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.

The National Jewish Democratic Council threw down the gauntlet on Thursday, calling on the GOP and presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to refuse money from Adelson, who has pumped millions of dollars into PACs supporting the party and candidate.

NJDC president David Harris launched an online petition drive calling for the rejection of “tainted” money from Adelson, who has been accused of corruption and allowing prostitution on his property.

In response, Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republic Jewish Coalition, slammed the NJDC campaign.

“It is absolutely outrageous that the NJDC would stoop so low to character assassination of the one individual who has done so much for the Jewish people and Jewish philanthropy for the sake of partisan political gain,” Brooks charged.

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He noted that Adelson, who is a major funder of the RJC, has not been found to have engaged in any illegal practices, and that many of the allegations have been made by a “disgruntled” former employee.

Brooks also questioned why the NJDC had not called on Adelson to return the millions of dollars he has given to Jewish federations, Taglit-Birthright, Yad Vashem and other Jewish charities.

“There are different standards in these different areas, between politics and philanthropy,” Harris said, adding that there’s a “higher standard for those seeking the highest office in the land.”

Harris emphasized that the NJDC is not saying the allegations against Adelson are true, but is merely asking his political beneficiaries to refrain from accepting his donations until the cases against him have been resolved.

Adelson initially donated generously to Newt Gingrich during the Republican primary, but has now backed Romney since he clinched the nomination.

Romney will soon be traveling to Israel, and some have suggested that the decision to go to Israel was affected by the staunchly pro-Israel Adelson’s support.

Brooks rejected that assertion as “absolutely absurd.”

He said that Romney is seeking to draw contrasts with US President Barack Obama’s treatment of Israel, a country that he has not visited during his time in office, though he did stop there during the 2008 campaign.

“This trip is absolutely consistent with everything he [Romney] has said publicly” about Israel, according to Brooks.

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