Sheldon Adelson, the self made billionaire, CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, and major Republican donor, filed a multi-million dollar libel lawsuit in New York today against David Harris and the National Jewish Democratic Council. As Bloomberg News reported:
Adelson, a billionaire and top fundraiser for Republican Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, filed his $10 million suit today in Manhattan federal court. He claims the NJDC, its president, David Harris, and its chairman, Marc Stanley, “crossed the threshold from constitutionally protected speech to defamation of a public figure.”
The suit is over an article that Adelson says was authored by Harris and posted on the NJDC website claiming Adelson approved of prostitution in his Macau casinos and urging Romney to cease accepting his donations. The article cites allegations made in a separate lawsuit by an employee of Sands China Ltd. (1928), Adelson says. Adelson denies the claims.
Reuters reported today that in addition to his claim for $10 million in compensatory damages Adelson is seeking $50 million in punitive damages, bringing the total claim to $60 million.
In an op-ed that ran in the Jerusalem Post on July 9, Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz dissociated himself from the NJDC attacks on Adelson:
David Harris, the president of the National Jewish Democratic Council, has asked Jewish Democrats to sign a petition demanding that Mitt Romney and the rest of the Republican Party stop taking campaign contributions from Sheldon Adelson, and return those already received. They claim his money is “tainted.”
This absurd allegation comes from a highly questionable, if not totally discredited, source – namely a former employee who was fired and is suing Adelson. He claims that Adelson approved of prostitution in his Macau casinos. Harris has apparently credited this claim even though no evidence has been submitted to support it and no finding has been made by any court. Has he never heard of “due process” or the “presumption of innocence?” …
Adelson grew up in Boston in near poverty and is a shining example of the American dream. He is a self-made multi-billionaire who has contributed significantly to the world of modern technology and to the economic growth of Las Vegas and other areas. His generosity has helped repair the world.
I AM a Democrat and do not agree with many of Adelson’s political views, but I think it’s outrageous for the National Jewish Democratic Council to level unfounded allegations against Adelson. They do not speak for me, and for the many other Jews who admire Adelson’s contributions to the world, to America, to Israel and to the Jewish community.
I don’t know who Harris purports to speak for as president of the NJDC, but his partisan gamesmanship is an embarrassment to many Jewish Democrats. The attack comes with particular ill grace from a Jewish organization, considering all that Adelson has done for Jewish causes, and considering the fact that there is nothing uniquely “Jewish” about the questionable allegations against him.
Earlier this week, Politico reported that Adelson’s attorney had sent letters to both the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the NJDC requesting apologies. The DCCC complied, but the NJDC defiantly refused, as their statement on their website today confirmed:
“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.”
Politico described the final communications to the NJDC from Adelson’s attorney’s prior to the filing of the lawsuit today:
Sheldon Adelson, who got an unusual public correction and apology from the DCCC after his lawyers sent a letter demanding one after the group pushed a damaging story about him, is now going after the National Jewish Democratic Council.
The NJDC “recently” got a letter from Adelson’s lawyers, the group confirmed, but declined to comment on how it plans to address it.
But sources described it as similar to the one Adelson’s lawyers sent the DCCC, which was over an email blast about a story claiming Adelson was aware of prostitution going on at some of his Macau holdings. Adelson’s lawyer and aides have denied that.
The NJDC sent out an email highlighting the prostitution story and other negative headlines.
“It’s well known that Adelson makes tremendous sums of money through his casinos in China, which — according to 2008 Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain (AZ) — means that Chinese “foreign money” (to quote McCain) is flooding our political system,” read the email that went out on July 5. “But this week, reports surfaced that in addition to his anti-union and allegedly corrupt business practices, Adelson “personally approved” of prostitution in his Macau casinos.”
Breitbart News contacted David Streeter, Senior Communications and Research Associate at NJDC, and requested an interview with NJDC President David Harris to ask him a simple question: Why not just apologize to Mr. Adelson and save everyone a lot of legal fees? Mr. Harris has not yet responded to the question.
Michael Patrick Leahy is a Breitbart News contributor, Editor of Broadside Books’ Voices of the Tea Party e-book series, and author of Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement.