Billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who, along with his family, is the biggest disclosed donor in the super PAC-era, filed a $60 million libel suit Wednesday against the National Jewish Democratic Council and its top officers.
The suit, filed in a Manhattan federal court, seeks to redress "maliciously false and defamatory statements that conveyed to the public that plaintiff personally approved of and profited from prostitution" in resorts owned by Sands China, a subsidiary of Adelson's Las Vegas Sands.
The suit argues that the NJDC "crossed the threshold from constitutionally protected speech to defamation of a public figure."
Adelson's lawyers recently sent the group, which promotes Jewish values in the Democratic party, a letter telling them to back off allegations, made by a fired Sands CEO in a lawsuit and reported by the Associated Press, that Adelson personally approved of prostitution in Macau. Adelson has said the allegations are baseless.
Adelson's lawyers won an unusual apology and retraction from the DCCC for similar claims. The NJDC has not backed off.
"We will not be bullied into submission, and we will not be silenced by power," wrote the group in a statement. "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."
The group called the lawsuit a "strategic lawsuit against public participation," a common term for a suit to try to silence criticism by overwhelming defendants with legal costs. The group added that they will defend themselves "as far and as long as necessary."
It's not the group's first run-in with Adelson. Last month the NJDC withdrew a public petition calling on Republicans not to accept him, based on the same allegations and others made by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that Adelson was introducing foreign money into the elections.
Adelson has given $10 million to pro-Mitt Romney super PAC Restore Our Future and more than $20 million to a super PAC that supported Newt Gingrich's failed presidential run, as well as $5 million to a super PAC affiliated with House Speaker John Boehner. He has also reportedly pledged an additional $10 million to the 2012 efforts of Charles and David Koch and $20 million to the Karl Rove-founded Crossroads GPS.