DCCC apologizes to Adelson for 'Chinese prostitution' comments

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee issued an apology to casino mogul and prominent Republican donor Sheldon Adelson on Thursday, after the billionaire threatened to sue the organization over comments insinuating he profited from prostitution at his Chinese resorts.

"In press statements issued on June 29 and July 2, 2012, the DCCC made unsubstantiated allegations that attacked Sheldon Adelson, a supporter of the opposing party," the DCCC said in an e-mail released Thursday. "This was wrong.  The statements were untrue and unfair and we retract them.  The DCCC extends its sincere apology to Mr. Adelson and his family for any injury we have caused."

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The June 29 statement released by the DCCC cited an Associated Press story to assert that Adelson "personally approved of prostitution and knew of other improper activity at his company's properties," while the July 2 statement from DCCC spokesman Jesse Ferguson blasted House Republicans from accepting donations from Adelson.

"It's past time for House Republicans to reject the support of these groups funded by foreign money from a Chinese prostitution strategy," Ferguson said.

PolitiFact, an independent fact-checking organization, later rated the claims as "Pants on Fire" because they came from a lawsuit against the billionaire, but had not been otherwise substantiated.

Last month, a lawyer for Adelson sent the DCCC a letter accusing the organization of "maliciously branding Mr. Adelson as a pimp" and said the committee was guilty of libel. In the letter, the attorney demands "a prominent statement, in a form approved by Mr. Adelson, retracting and apologizing for your false claims" to avoid litigation.

It appears that the DCCC caved Thursday, issuing the statement in an e-mail to reporters.