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GOP groups keep money from conservative casino mogul accused of sexual misconduct

Republicans have been dodgy about returning donations from Steve Wynn, who recently agreed to pay $10 million in a settlement over sexual misconduct allegations.

By Josh Israel - July 27, 2023
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Casino mogul Steve Wynn pauses at a news conference in Medford, Mass., on March 15, 2016.
Casino mogul Steve Wynn pauses at a news conference in Medford, Mass., on March 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

Former Republican National Committee finance chair and casino mogul Steve Wynn has agreed to pay a $10 million fine to the state of Nevada to settle allegations of workplace sexual misconduct, the AP reported on Thursday. National and state Republican committees to which Wynn has contributed millions of dollars have not yet indicated whether they will divest themselves of those contributions.

According to the report, Wynn will admit no wrongdoing to the Nevada Gaming Commission but will end almost all ties to the gambling industry and pay the fine. According to the AP, a document he signed with the commission said that he had been of “failure to exercise discretion and sound judgment to prevent incidents that have reflected negatively on the reputation of the gaming industry and the State of Nevada.”

An attorney for Wynn did not immediately respond to an American Independent Foundation inquiry for this story.

In 2018, Wynn resigned his positions as chair and chief executive of Wynn Resorts and as RNC finance chair after multiple individuals told the Wall Street Journal that he had sexually assaulted or harassed them. Wynn denied the allegations, telling Politico: “The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous. … We find ourselves in a world where people can make allegations, regardless of the truth, and a person is left with the choice of weathering insulting publicity or engaging in multi-year lawsuits. It is deplorable for anyone to find themselves in this situation.”

Sources told the Journal that Wynn had paid $7.5 million to settle one sexual misconduct allegation. In 2019, Wynn Resorts paid a $35 million fine in Massachusetts after the state’s gaming commission found the company had covered up sexual misconduct allegations against its former CEO.

Some Republicans who had previously accepted campaign contributions from Wynn announced at the time that they would divest themselves of those funds, either returning them or donating them to charity.

The Republican Governors Association announced it would return a $100,000 contribution from Wynn’s company, but declined to return more than $2.4 million in other Wynn donations it had received since 2012. A spokesperson told the Boston Globe the group would not return money that has already been spent in previous campaign cycles.

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel in 2018 refused to give back any of the more than $400,000 the committee had taken from Wynn since 2003, according to a Jan. 30, 2018, Wall Street Journal story. “Steve has denied these allegations,” she told Fox News. “There is an investigation that will take place. He should be allowed due process. If he is found of any wrongdoing we’ll return 100% of that money. But we’ll let due process take place.”

A year earlier, McDaniel had demanded that Democrats give back millions of dollars they had received from accused sexual predator Harvey Weinstein, saying, “If Democrats and the DNC truly stand up for women like they say they do, then returning this dirty money should be a no brainer.”

In August 2022, Politico reported that Wynn had been part of a McDaniel conference call with major GOP donors and had asked her how donors who “are self-conscious for reasons that are personal to them, business people and folks like that,” could anonymously fund dark money GOP groups.

As of Thursday morning, the RNC had released no statement indicating plans to divest itself of Wynn’s money in light of the settlement. A committee spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.

Despite the allegations and the ongoing legal proceedings, several Republican super PACs and state committees took large contributions from Wynn in the 2020 and 2022 campaign cycles, according to OpenSecrets data.

Wynn gave $500,000 to the Karl Rove-linked super PAC American Crossroads in 2020.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC reportedly aligned with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, took $1 million from Wynn the same year.

In September 2022, Wynn gave $10,000 contributions to the Florida, Georgia, Nevada, and Wisconsin Republican state parties.

None of the recipients of Wynn’s money immediately responded to inquiries about whether they will now divest themselves of the donations.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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