LAS VEGAS – A Democratic party group retracted statements and apologized to billionaire Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson for what it called unsubstantiated claims that he encouraged and profited from prostitution at his company casinos in Macau, a Chinese gambling enclave.
"The statements were untrue and unfair and we retract them," the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said in a terse 57-word release issued Thursday. "The DCCC extends its sincere apology to Mr. Adelson and his family for any injury we have caused."
Adelson's lawyers had threatened in a July 16 letter to sue over what they called defamatory and libelous claims made in DCCC releases on June 29 and July 2. The DCCC alleged that Adelson encouraged and profited from prostitution and donated "Chinese prostitution money" to Republican leaders.
DCCC press secretary Jesse Ferguson in Washington, D.C., would not make additional comments Friday.
Las Vegas Sands Corp. spokesman Ron Reese issued a statement saying the retraction "should serve notice to those who would attempt to smear Mr. Adelson by repeating the false and inflammatory statements of a fired employee."
He referred to former top Sands China Ltd. executive Steven Jacobs, who alleged in a sworn declaration filed June 27 in Nevada state court that Adelson knew about prostitution at Sands company casinos in Macau.
The company and Adelson deny wrongdoing, and Adelson filed a defamation lawsuit July 20 in Florida state court in Miami against Jacobs.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages, declares that Adelson's opposition to prostitution is well-known, and says that Adelson and his wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, have established clinics to treat drug addicts and keep them from resorting to prostitution.
"The company will continue to vigorously defend its name and that of its senior executives, specifically Sheldon Adelson, from the cycle of sensationalized media and political repetition of baseless allegations," Reese said in a statement about the defamation case.
Jacobs attorney James Pisanelli in Las Vegas declined comment Friday about the Florida case.
Jacobs was fired as CEO in July 2010, and filed a civil lawsuit for wrongful dismissal three months later in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas. He accuses the company of breach of contract and pushing him into illegal activity in Macau.
Las Vegas Sands filed a counterclaim, accusing Jacobs of extortion and ties to organized crime in China.
Adelson is a prominent political donor to Jewish and Republican causes and candidates. He gave $10 million in support of then-presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich and has pledged $100 million to Mitt Romney's GOP bid for the White House.
The legal battle with Jacobs has drawn interest from U.S. Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission investigators for possible violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Macau is a former Portuguese colony near Hong Kong. In Macau, Sands China Ltd. owns the Venetian Macao and Sands Macao casino resorts, the Plaza Macao hotel, restaurant and shopping complex and the newly opened Sands Cotai Central resort.
Las Vegas Sands Corp. owns the Venetian and Palazzo resorts in Las Vegas.