A federal judge dismissed billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson’s lawsuit against the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC). Finding that Adelson’s complaint violated a Nevada law against court cases intended to stifle free speech, the judge also ordered Adelson to pay the NJDC’s legal fees.
Adelson, who serves on the board of the Republican Jewish Coalition, filed a $60 million federal libel suit last year, claiming the NJDC defamed his character by repeating news reports about allegations that he personally approved and profited from prostitution at his Macau casino. Adelson claimed NJDC had “crossed the threshold from constitutionally protected speech to defamation of a public figure,” by repeating these allegations.
The NJDC refused to back down and told the court it was a “strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP),” aimed at silencing its free speech rights through intimidation. Because federal district judge J. Paul Oetken found NJDC was engaging in protected political speech (under the doctrine of “fair report privilege”) and agreed the case violated a state ban on SLAPP cases, he ordered Adelson to pay the NJDC’s attorney’s fees for the case.
NJDC chair Marc Stanley told Politico, “This is an instance where David stood up to Goliath, where Goliath was trying to suppress our speech during the election, and the court told him that’s wrong.” Adelson’s spokesman did not respond to the paper’s request for comment.
Adelson and his wife spent a reported $150 million to help elect Republican candidates in 2012. Last month, he reportedly agreed to pay $47.4 million in fines to settle a federal money laundering investigation, but is still facing separate inquiries into alleged foreign corrupt practices.