US federal judge dismisses Adelson lawsuit against NJDC

The case alleged that the NJDC libeled Adelson.

Sheldon Adelson 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Sheldon Adelson 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
NEW YORK – A US federal judge on Monday threw out billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s libel suit against the National Jewish Democratic Coalition.
The case, 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 million.
In the 2012 election cycle, Adelson ultimately donated $10 million to the pro-Romney super Political Action Committee Restore Our Future, $20m.
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 suit.
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.