Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson’s lawyers sent a warning letter to the NJDC and to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last week, after both groups had called on Republicans not to take money from Adelson following an allegation by a fired employee that the billionaire had approved of prostitution at his facilities in Macau, China.
The allegation first appeared in an Associated Press account of the lawsuit filed by Adelson’s former employee, Steven Jacobs, who had managed Adelson’s Macua business until being fired in 2010.
The DCCC apologized last week, but NJDC has refused to do so, and Adelson filed the lawsuit this week.
NJDC revealed the lawsuit in the following statement on its website:
“We will not be bullied into submission, and we will not be silenced by power. 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 right. One would think the person making greatest use of the Citizens United ruling would understand this. To be sure, referencing mainstream press accounts examining the conduct of a public figure and his business ventures—as we did—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.
“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. We simply will not be bullied, and we will not be silenced.”
“Referencing mainstream press accounts examining the conduct of a public figure and his business ventures – as we did – is wholly appropriate,” it said in a statement. “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.”
NJDC officials referred to Adelson’s suit as a “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” or SLAPP, a term used for legal maneuvers aimed not at obtaining justice but silence.
Adelson’s publicist, Ron Reese, had no immediate comment.
Back in July, NJDC Chair Marc R. Stanley and President and CEO David A. Harris issued the following statement, regarding their “Sheldon Adelson Petition”:
“Regarding our recent campaign surrounding Sheldon Adelson, we don’t believe we engaged in character assassination; we stand by everything we said, which was sourced from current, credible news accounts. Accusations against Mr. Adelson were made not by us, but by others, including Senator John McCain (R-AZ). 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 megadonors, which rightly concerns most Americans and most American Jews.”
Apparently, backtracking did not yield the desired “shalom bayit.”
Since the May, 2004 opening of the Sands Macao, Adelson’s personal wealth has grown from just under $2 billion to an estimated $24.9 billion as of March, 2012. However, Adelson’s company is reportedly under federal investigation over alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act relating to payments made to a Macao lawyer.
JTA content was used in this report.