By RON KAMPEAS
WASHINGTON (JTA) — Sheldon Adelson is suing the National Jewish Democratic Council for defamation.
Lawyers for Adelson, the casino magnate and major Republican donor, had sent a warning letter to the NJDC and to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last week after each body publicly stated that Adelson had approved of prostitution at his properties in Macau, China. That allegation appeared in a lawsuit filed by a former Adelson employee, Steven Jacobs, who had managed Adelson’s Macau business until being fired in 2010.
The DCCC apologized last week for referencing the allegation in press releases sent June 22 and July 2 that called on Republicans not to take Adelson’s money. But NJDC has refused to excise the allegation from an online petition calling on Republicans to stop accepting money from Adelson.
Adelson filed the defamation lawsuit this week; the NJDC shared news of the lawsuit in a statement sent to reporters.
“Referencing mainstream press accounts examining the conduct of a public figure and his business ventures — as we did — is wholly appropriate,” NJDC 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.”
The statement called Adelson’s lawsuit a “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” or SLAPP, a term used for legal maneuvers aimed not at obtaining justice but silence.
“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.”
Adelson’s publicist, Ron Reese, had no immediate comment.