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August 17, 2012

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 17, 2012 PAGE 15A Adelson lawsuit describes pressure on NJDC to apologize ing the petition's removal and signed by NJDC president David Harris and chairman Marc Stanley, who also are named in Adelson's lawsuit. '`we stand by everything we said, which was sourced from current, credible news accounts." . Instead, Stanley and Harris said, they were removing the petition in the name of "shalom bayit,"the Hebrew term forpeace in the home. The original NJDC petition o had cited an Associated Press story quoting parts of the Jacobs lawsuit. Nothing in the AP story aside from the quote from the Jacobs lawsuit validated the prostitution claim. TheAP story notes that federal investigators are interested in daims by Jacobs in the lawsuit that Adelson's business autho- rized bribes to Chinese officials. In addition to the prostitution allegation, the NJDC petition cited the bribery investigations as well as Adelson's clashes with unions to bolster its claim that Adelson's money was "dirty." Adelson's publicist, Ron Reese, had no ir,=nediate comment, but the lawsuit suggests that the NJDC's non-apology made matters worse. The lawsuit cites not just the July 3 petition but the July 11 statement removing the petition to make its case. The claim by Harris and Stanley that they "stand by" what they described as "credible news ac- counts" was in itself "false and defamatory," the lawsuit said. The lawsuit details how, through an interlocutor, Adelson tried to show Harris that Jacobs By Ron Impeas WASHINGTON (JTA)-- Sheldon Adelson's $60 million defamation lawsuit against the National Jewish Democratic Council describes extensive efforts by his representatives, including Alan Dershowitz, to talk the group into apologizing for intimating that the casino magnate approved of prostitu- tion. The 16-page lawsuit was filed Aug. 8 in U.S. District Court in New York. Lawyers for Adelson, one of the worlds' wealthiest men, a major Republican donor and among the largest U.S. givers to Jewish and Israeli causes, had sent awaming letter to the NJDC and to the Democratic Congres- sional Campaign Committee last month after each body quoted news reports alleging that Add- son had approved of prostitution athispmpertiesinMacau, China. The allegation appeared in a lawsuit filed by a formerAdelson employee, "Steven Jacobs, who had managed Adelson's Macau business until he was fired in 2010. The DCCC apologized two weeks ago for referencing the allegation in news releases sent June 22 and July 2. Under pressure from Jewish groups, the NJDC removed an online petition calling on Repub- licans to stop accepting money from Adelson--but it would not apologize. '`we don't believe we engaged in character assassination," said the July 11 statement announc- was lying. It quoted what it said was a 2009 email from Jacobs to Michael Leven, Adelson's chief operating officer, askingwhether Adelson hadapproved 0fpmstitu- tion. The lawsuit does not quote the email at length or explain why Jacobs would make such a query, but it does quote him as saying that allowing prostitution would "seem at odds with what I know to be Sheldon's 'no toler- ance' policy." Leven responds the next day, May 12, 2009, and says "there is no evidence that can be found that anyone here SUplrted in "anyway (sic) a different policy than we have in las vegas (sic)" The lawsuit says that Harris was contacted after the July 3 petition was posted and that the email exchange between Jacobs and Levenwas described to him. Alan Dershowitz, the promi- nent First Amendment lawyer and Harvard professor, told JTA on Aug. 8 that he was the interlocutor who reached out to Harris on Adelson's behalf. "I had a conversation with Da- vid Harris in which I personally told him the same man whom they q .uote 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 pros- titution allegation; it only notes that the allegation would seem at odds with Adelson's stated policies. Harris would not com- ment 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 willfullyspreadinga'lashon hora' that they know to be false," Der- showitzsaid, 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. Organizations associated with Adelson have paid Der- showitz twice: for speaking at the Jewish day school founded byAdelsonand hiswife, Miriam, in .Vegas, and as a lawyer helping to represent Adelson's Venetian casino in its effor{s to keep union picketers off sidewalks adjacent to the hotel. TheVenetianlostthat2001case, which Dershowitz said occurred before he met Adelson. "The work he does for Jew- ish education is unmatched," Dershowitz said. Adelson seems particularly galled in the lawsuit by the pmstitutionallegation because of the work he and his wife fund in Israel to rehabilitate prostitutes. "The Adelson clinics work to support these women, provide themwith drug abuse treatment, and end their involvement in prostitution," the lawsuit says. The lawsuit notes Adelson's Photos via Creative Commons Sheldon Adelson is suing the National Jewish Democratic Council for $60 million for intimating in an online petition that he approved of prostitution at his Macau casino. continued efforts to have the NJDC stand down, including the July 17 waming letter, and then outreach from Adelson's lawyers to the NJDC on Aug. 3 to note the DCCC apology issued the day before. The NJDC said in a statement Aug. 8 announcing the lawsuit that it would stand i ground. "Referencing mainstream press accounts examining-the conduct ofapublic figure and his business ventures---as we did-- iswholly appropriate,"NJDC said in the 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 Adel- son's lawsuit a "stratec lawsuit against public participation," or SLAPP, a term used for legal maneuvers aimed not at obtain- ing 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." Bad blood between Harris and Adelson runs deeper than the usual Republican-Demo- cratsquare-off. Harris appeared at the Jewish Federations of North America TribeFest gath- ering in Las Vegas for young leaders on March 25 as a sur- rogate in a debate on the merits of the presidential candidates. Adelson walked into the event, which tookplace at his.Venetian hotel, and berated Harris for six minutes, rising insulting terms to describe Dbama and harrumphing out loud when Harris attempted to respond. Late Aug. 8, NJDC blasted fol- lowerswithanemail fundraising off the lawsuit. 'flour support at this moment is more important than ever," said the email, which carried the subject line''We've been suedfor $60 million." For Adelson, political and Jewish giving are all of a piece By Ron Kampeas "Where he's given money, he's ney backer this election and the limousines and putting them up WASHINGTON 0TA)--Call it the Adelson conundrum: What happens when the guy who acts asifheownstheroomreallydoes? In March at TribFest, the an- nual gathering of young adulta organized by the Jewish Federa- tions of NorthAmerica at the Ve- netianhotelinLasVegas, Sheldon Adelson walked in on a surrogate debatebetweenMatt Brooks,who directs the Republican Jewish Coalition, and his counterpart at the National Jewish Democratic Council, David A. Harris. Adelson, who owns the Ve- netian, was the first to ask a question. He went on to berate Harris for sixminutes, describing President Obama as a "crybaby" who should be in diapers, accord- ing to several people in the room, including an organizer. The organizer, speaking on background, said the time Add- son used and his tone were luxuries that would not have been afforded anyone else. The difference, as the organizer said, is thatAdelson "owned the room, literally:' Thatsamesenseofentitlement could be driving the 79-year-old Adelson's conversationswith Mitt Romney, thepresumptive Repub- lican nominee for president. Last week, The Daily Beast/ Newsweek reported thatAdelson was pressing Romney to speak out publicly in favor of the release ofconvictedspyJonathanPollard, to commit to moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, and to declare the Palestiniansas unwilling to make peace. Romney, the report said, is resisting. Through political action com- mittees, Adelson and his wife, Miriam, have funneled $10 mil- lion toward Romney's dection effort. Adelson has said he's will- Olivier Fitoussi/FLASH90/JTA Sheldon Adelson's backing of Republican candidates and pro-Israel causes have garnered widespread media attention this campaign. ing to spend up to $100 million " Adelson is the 15th richest to defeat Obama. man in the world, according to Those close to Adelson say Forbes, withanestimatedworth politics are a small part of what of $25 billion. makes him tick. The confluence of Adelson's "He is passionately commit- three major interests--Jewish ted to Jewish life and living, and philanthropy, Republicanpolitics to Israel" said Elliot Karp, the and the casino busine',ss, which director of the Los Vegas Jewish is how Adelson became one of Federation."Andheisnomoreor the world's richest men--has less polarizing than anyone else become one of the preeminent who gives his opinions." narratives of this election cam- Adelson has given nearly paign. $100 million to Birthright Israel, New York Times columnist the program that brings Jews Thomas Friedman slammed aged 18-26 to Israel for free. He Romney in a July 31 column for revived the fortunes of the Yad "abasing"himselfbeforeAdelson Vashem Holocaust memorial in during a Jerusalem visit two Jerusalemwith a $25 million gift weeks ago. in2006.Hehasestablisheda$4.5 "Since the whole trir was not million Jewish studies center in about learning anytling but his name at the Shalerr/Center, a about how to satisfy th political right-wing think tankin Jerusa- whims of the right-wing, super lem. His relatively smaller dona- pm-Bibi Netanyahu, American tions have helped bolster groups Jewish casino magnate Sheldon such as the Zionist Organization Adelson, why didn't they just do of AmericaandTheIsraelProject. the whole thing in Los Vegas?" "The true story is that the Friedman wrote. amount of money he spends on Some frustrated Jewish Dem- politics is dwarfed by what he ocrats believe the Jewish com- gives to philanthropy," Brooks munity is unduly influenced by told JTA. "They are the single its single largest donor. most important philanthropists "It's very intimidating," said jn the Jewish community, in Steve Rabinowitz, a leading ten-nsofBirthright, YadVashem public relations consultant to and medical research." he said of Jewish and Democratic causes, the Adelsons. speaking of Adelson's influence. given extraordinary amounts of money, and I've seen it firsthand:' Adelson's publicist, Ron Reese, did not return multiple requests for comment. For his part, Adelson is un- apologeticabout usinghis money to influence policy. "I'm against very wealthy people attempting to or influ- encing elections" he told Forbes in February. "But as long as it's doable I'm going to do it. Because I know that guys like Soros have been doing it for years, if not decades," he said, referring to the left-wing finander George Soros, who also is Jewish. Democrats scoff at the com- parison, noting that Soros in this election cycle has pledged $2 million to help Obama's re-election--one-50th of the amount that Adelson has said he's willing to spend. The admixture of Adelson's politics and charitable giving is not new. In December, address- ing a Chanukah gathering in Israel of hundreds of Birthright participants, Adelson champi- oned Newt Gingrich after the then-Republican candidate for president said the Palestinians were an "invented people." At the time, Addson was the single biggest backer of Gingrich; he and his wife gave $16.5 million to the ex-House of Representatives speaker's effort. Birthright did not return a re- quest for comment for this story. In 2007, Adelson broke with theAmerican Israel PublicAffairs Committee over its support for a Congressional letter calling for a massive increase in funding for the Palestinian Authority. Adelson previously had been one of AIPAC's major backers, help- ing to fund its new Washington headquarters. Fred Zeidman, a major Rom- former chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, saidAdelson'sobjectionswerepar for the course for major donors. "You don't just write blank checks," Ze i dman sd. !'You don't have to agree, but don't ask him to give money to something he doesn't believe in:' Adelson told JTA in 2009 that his criteria for giving was %vhatever is good for the Jewish communityandwhateveris good for the State of Israel" He has a reputation as a nitpicker: Thestaff of Freedoms Watch, which Adelson founded prior to the 2008 dection to champion President George W. Bush's Iraq War policies, said Adelson's day-to-day microman- aging caused the organization to founder. Freedoms Watch no longer exists. in luxury suites. Adeison, who needs assistance inwalkingbecause of a nerve con- dition, peripheral neuropathy, affectsagrandfatherly derneanor, Complete with self-deprecation. When a Politico reporter at the Romney eventin Jemsalemasked him why he was in town, he re- joined, "I came to get ashwarma sardwich, what do you mean?" Miriam Adelson, an internist from Israel who specializes in drug addiction, is his second wife. He met her on a blind date in 1989, a year after he divorced his first wife, Sharon. Adelson, aproductofaworking class family in Dorchester, Mass, who made his first fortune orga- nizing computer trade shows, already was leaning right, but Miriam helpedsharpen hisviews, particularly relating to her native And Adelson can also hold a Israel. grudge. He fired Shelley Berldey, his legislative director in the 1990s, over'keeping the unions he reviles at the casinos. Berldey- went on to become one of Israers most strident defenders in Con- gress and the Nevada Democratis now running for the U.S. Senate, but Adeison's opposition to her has not waned. He and his wife have maxed out donations to her opponent, incumbent Sen. Dean Heller, a Republican. ButAdelson can also be forgiv- ing. Despite repeated dasheswith the Las Vegas Jewish Federation in the past decade over what he perceived as its wastefulness; he is now its biggest donor, matching every new donation and every Associates say she dotes on him, snatching harmful foods from his hand. "He tells her to go away, but he listens," said ZOA Presi- dent Morton Klein, adding that Adelson tells his friends he was determined to marry an Israeli the second time around. In the 1990s, as he entered the casino business, 'Adelson established two friendships that have thrust him into the political storrruwithBenjaminNetanyahu and Gingrich. Both friendships, notably, were forged in pro-Israel politics: Gingrich, defying both the C!inton and Yitzhak Rabin governments, had shepherded a law through Congress recogniz- increase over the previous year's : ing Jerusalem as Israel's capital. donations. ZeidmansaysAdelsonisasolid 'he Adelsons are front and listenerbutknowswhenhismind center in the community," said Karp, the. federation director. Adelson treats his Jewish beneficiaries like royalty, having them picked up at the airport in is made up. "He'sverystrongwilled, 'Zeid- man said. "He is truly blunt in terms ofarticulatinghis decisions once he's made them."