Editor’s note: Sheldon Adelson, the casino executive and Republican political donor, filed a defamation suit yesterday against the National Jewish Democratic Council and its leadership over an article posted on the Democratic group’s website repeating allegations that Adelson approved of prostitution at his casinos on the Chinese island of Macao. The $60 million suit, filed in federal court in New York, asserts that the NJDC knew that the prostitution allegations were false before repeating them. Those allegations came from press reports based on statements made in an unrelated lawsuit filed against Adelson’s firm by a former high-level employee..
Sheldon Adelson sued me, the National Jewish Democratic Council, and NJDC President and CEO, David Harris, on August 8 for defamation. The back story is that the NJDC circulated a petition urging the Republican National Committee and the Romney campaign to cease taking Adelson’s money until public allegations about his overseas business practices were resolved. Even Republican Sen. John McCain publicly expressed concern about “foreign money” (his term) from Adelson’s Chinese ventures flooding our political system.
Our petition created a minor ruckus in the Jewish communal world — Jewish agencies that benefit from Adelson’s incredible generosity publicly criticized us. Yet the petition itself only came after weeks of allegations about Adelson in the news media and on the Internet. Indeed, a Google search for such reports as of August 7, 2012 yielded almost 1 million results. Nevertheless, in response to the criticism, we took down our petition and criticisms of Adelson from our website in the interest of shalom bayit.
Apparently, that was not enough for Adelson.
It appears that Adelson, with his billions of dollars, not only wants to control political speech and buy the election for the Republican side. He also wants to stifle the exercise of free speech by a small group of Democratic Jews. This is a classic SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) suit, one which the multiple lawyers and law firms he has allegedly consulted surely have advised him he cannot win because he is undoubtedly a public figure and has thrust himself into the political arena.