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The 2012 Vote

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Adelson Fights Back

August 9th 2012

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Sheldon Adelson

Billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson has had enough, and he let the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) know that Wednesday in a $60 million libel suit against the political organization, reports JTA. In an article on its Web site, the NJDC alleged that Adelson approved of prostitution in his China-based casinos. They further urged presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney to stop taking Adelson’s multi-million dollar donations. Filed in Manhattan federal court, Adelson’s suit alleges that NJDC, its president David Harris, and its chairman Marc Stanley, “crossed the threshold from constitutionally protected speech to defamation of a public figure.”

In response, the NJDC released a statement, noting, “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,” the statement continued.

"We know that we were well within our rights, and we will defend ourselves against this SLAPP [strategic lawsuit against public participation] suit as far and as long as necessary," the Democratic front group said. "We simply will not be bullied, and we will not be silenced."

Adelson also threatened to file suit against the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) last week for referencing the allegation in press releases sent June 22 and July 2, which urged all Republicans not to take Adelson's money, the JTA reports. Upon receiving a letter from Adelson, the DCCC quickly apologized. But the NJDC has refused, and maintains its right to keep the allegations posted on their website.

UPDATE:
The JTA veteran Washington bureau chief Ron Kampeas reported exclusively on details involving famous Constitutional attorney Alan Dershowitz: "Alan Dershowitz, the prominent First Amendment lawyer and Harvard professor, told JTA on Wednesday that he was the interlocutor who reached out to Harris on Adelson's behalf. "I had a conversation with David Harris in which I personally told him the same man whom they quote as having made the allegation in an email had said he doesn't believe the allegation to be true," Dershowitz said. Jacobs' email, at least as quoted in the lawsuit, does not address the veracity of the prostitution allegation; it only notes that the allegation would seem at odds with Adelson's stated policies. Harris would not comment on his conversation with Dershowitz. Dershowitz, a Democrat who was among the notable Jewish individuals who had called on Harris and NJDC to rescind the petition as soon as it appeared, said Harris' refusal to apologize disqualifies him to represent Democrats or Jews. "He is now doing more harm to Democrats and the Jewish community than good. They are willfully spreading a 'lashon hora' that they know to be false," Dershowitz said, using the Hebrew term for malicious gossip. Dershowitz said he could not comment on the freedom of speech merits of the NJDC case because he may be called upon to act as a witness should the lawsuit go to trial. 


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