Billionaire Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelson donates millions of dollars to Republican causes. A fired former employee of Adelson’s filed a lawsuit which alleges that Adelson personally approved of prostitution at properties his company owns in Macau, a former Portuguese colony near Hong Kong that now is part of China.
Adelson vigorously denies those allegations.
What does any of that have to do with Rep. Jim Renacci?
Even though Federal Election Commission records show that Adelson hasn’t ever donated to Renacci, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee tried to use the casino owner’s legal woes against the Medina County congressman with a provocatively titled press release: "Congressman Renacci’s Re-election Funded by Chinese Prostitution Money?"
"Foreign Chinese prostitution money is allegedly behind the groups funding Congressman Jim Renacci’s Republican majority," the DCCC claimed in a news release on July 2, 2012.
"What will Congressman Jim Renacci do when his Chinese prostitution money comes from billionaire Sheldon Adelson?" it continued, urging Renacci to "reject the support of these groups funded by money from a Chinese prostitution strategy."
As a result of redistricting, Renacci, a Republican from Wadsworth, Ohio, is pitted against Rep. Betty Sutton, a Democrat. That makes him a target for the DCCC.
The DCCC release noted that Adelson and his wife gave $5 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund Super PAC, which is backed by House Speaker John Boehner and other GOP leaders. FEC records indicate that Super PAC hasn’t spent anything so far.
Adelson and his wife, Miriam, also gave more than $60,000 to the Republican counterpart of the DCCC, the National Republican Congressional Committee, during the past election cycle. The NRCC regularly sends out news releases that attack Sutton, Renacci’s November election rival who is from Copley Township near Akron.
When we asked Renacci campaign spokesman James Slepian about the DCCC’s claim that the congressman’s re-election might somehow be funded by Chinese prostitution money, Slepian replied that there is "no money from Chinese prostitutes, the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy in our campaign coffers."
"The DCCC's Chinese prostitution fantasy demonstrates that they are now fully immersed in the gutter and will literally say anything to avoid talking about Betty Sutton's lockstep support for the failed Obama economic agenda," Slepian said. "This campaign needs to be about the economy and voting records, not fairy tales about Chinese hookers."
The allegations that Adelson signed off on prostitution at his properties in Macau were raised last month during a lawsuit filed by former Sands executive Steven Jacobs, who was fired from overseeing those properties in July 2010. Associated Press reported that Jacobs’ lawsuit accuses Adelson of breach of contract and pushing him into illegal activity.
A court filing from Jacobs says he tried to rid the casino floor of "loan sharks and prostitution" while he worked there, which upset senior executives who informed him that "the prior prostitution strategy had been personally approved by Adelson."
A spokesman for the Adelson’s company, Las Vegas Sands, issued a statement that said Adelson has always "maintained a strong policy against prostitution on our properties and any accusation to the contrary represents a blatant and reprehensible personal attack on Mr. Adelson’s character."
In a July 9 interview with Forbes magazine, Adelson said there’s not a "shred of evidence" to back his former employee’s charges, and "says the fact that he and his wife (a physician who specializes in treating addiction) have given millions of dollars to set up clinics around the world to treat people with drug addictions (many of them prostitutes) makes the … claims even more preposterous." Adelson also told the publication that promoting prostitution could cost him his gaming licenses in Las Vegas, Singapore and Macau.
Do unproven charges by a disgruntled former Adelson employee coupled with Adelson’s generosity to GOP groups that are likely to back Renacci justify the DCCC’s claim that "foreign Chinese prostitution money is allegedly behind the groups funding Congressman Jim Renacci’s Republican majority?"
We don’t think so.
The root of the allegation stems from a fired employee’s claim that Adelson allowed prostitution to be present in a casino in Macau. Based on that, the DCCC claims that Adelson, one of the wealthiest people in America, made political contributions with cash from prostitution revenues. And then the claim invokes Renacci’s name as part of the Republican majority that this tainted money is supposedly supporting.
Renacci hasn’t accepted money from Adelson and doesn’t control contributions to the GOP groups that support him.
The claim that Adelson’s donations to these other groups amount to "Chinese prostitution money" is dubious enough that inserting the word "allegedly" can’t save it.
On the Truth-O-Meter, the DCCC statement rates Pants on Fire.