Casino magnate, philanthropist and key Republican donor Sheldon Adelson has filed a lawsuit against the National Jewish Democratic Council for defamation.
Two weeks ago, Adelson’s attorneys issued a warning letter to both the NJDC and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, regarding their public statements that Adelson had permitted prostitution activity at his properties in Macau, China. The shocking allegation was originally made in a lawsuit filed by Steven Jacobs, who served as the manager of the tycoon’s business in Macau until his termination in 2010.
The DCCC subsequently apologized for referring to the prostitution allegation in press releases it had sent out in late June and early July that urged Republicans to decline Adelson’s donations. But the National Jewish Democratic Council has refused to remove the allegation from an online petition making the same plea to Republicans.
“Referencing mainstream press accounts examining the conduct of a public figure and his business ventures – as we did – is wholly appropriate,” the NJDC said in a public statement defending its action.
“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 statement branded Adelson’s lawsuit a “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” or SLAPP, a term that is used for legal actions intended to obtain silence rather than justice. “We know that we were well within our rights, and we will defend ourselves against this SLAPP suit as far and as long as necessary,” NJDC said. “We simply will not be bullied, and we will not be silenced.”
While the NJDC continues to stand by its right to publicly reference the prostitution charge against Adelson, it did earlier rescind its petition asking Republicans not to accept Adelson’s money, and explained its action at that time as meant to foster harmony among Jewish groups.
“Accusations against Mr. Adelson were made not by us, but by others, including Senator John McCain (R-AZ),” the statement from NJDC President David Harris and Chairman Marc Stanley read. “Nonetheless, we regret the concern that this campaign has caused. And in the interest of shalom bayit (peace in our home/community), we are going to take down our petition today. Moving forward, we’ll continue to work hard to fight against the unique threat posed by the outsized influence of certain individual mega-donors, which rightly concerns most Americans and most American Jews.”
In addition to the prostitution charge, the NJDC petition had been based on a claim by McCain that Adelson’s infusion of millions of dollars – much of which likely comes from his China operations – was effectively introducing Chinese money into the presidential campaign, as well as on federal investigations into allegations that the casino magnate has doled out bribes in China.
Prominent Jewish organizations and notables, including the Anti-Defamation League, the Republican Jewish Coalition and Alan Dershowitz, have stated that the allegations are unconscionable, as no proof to them has yet been presented.
“We don’t believe we engaged in character assassination,” Harris and Stanley further stated. “We stand by everything we said, which was sourced from current, credible news accounts.”