News & Politics

Will Republicans Return Donations from Steve Wynn?

(AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Republican National Committee Finance Chairman Steve Wynn resigned yesterday following accusations of sexual harassment published in the Wall Street Journal. The casino mogul is accused of forcing several women to perform sexual acts, including a manicurist to whom he paid $7.5 million to keep quiet.

Wynn has denied the charges, saying it is “preposterous” that he would assault any woman. But he acknowledged in his resignation statement that the story would become a “distraction.”

“Effective today I am resigning as Finance Chairman of the RNC,” he said. “The unbelievable success we have achieved must continue. The work we are doing to make America a better place is too important to be impaired by this distraction. I thank the President for the opportunity to serve and wish him continued success.”

The RNC, which holds its annual winter meeting in Washington next week, was radio silent on Friday after the allegations against Wynn first emerged — as were most top Republicans. Democrats, meanwhile, seized on the political opportunity presented by the allegations against Wynn.

In Nevada, GOP Sen. Dean Heller — who is facing a competitive reelection challenge — immediately came under fire from Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen, who called on him to disavow Wynn’s endorsement and demand that Wynn step down from his RNC post.

Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee, reacted to the news of Wynn’s resignation by saying, “I’m sure the RNC will find another billionaire to replace Steve Wynn, and they’re all going to do essentially the same thing: hoard wealth for the richest people and exclude hard-working people from real opportunity.”

Wynn blames the accusations on his ex-wife, who is suing him:

Mr. Wynn said that “the instigation of these accusations is the continued work of my ex-wife Elaine Wynn, with whom I am involved in a terrible and nasty lawsuit in which she is seeking a revised divorce settlement.” He said he remained focused on the company, its employees and its shareholders.

Ms. Wynn declined to speak to the Journal. An attorney for Ms. Wynn said the notion she instigated the Journal’s article “is just not true.”

The WSJ detailed “dozens” of allegations against Wynn and it’s a good bet not all of them originated with his ex-wife.

Not surprisingly, Democrats are demanding GOP candidates return money donated by Wynn. And those donations are pretty extensive:

Wynn has been a prolific Republican donor, particularly over the past decade: He has donated more than $2.5 million to the Republican Governors Association since 2012 and has been a top donor to several individual gubernatorial campaigns.

The casino mogul also contributed $411,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee over the past five years, $248,000 to the RNC and $100,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee, according to campaign finance records.

Wynn’s transgressions, while serious, are nowhere near as serious as the predatory actions of Harvey Weinstein, who allegedly raped several women over decades.

Wynn’s demand for sexual favors from several employees marks him as a cad, not a criminal. His actions should be vigorously condemned and he should be shunned both professionally and personally.

But demanding that Republican politicians return his donations is absurd. Democrats may wish to paint Wynn with the same brush used to attack Harvey Weinstein, but there are few similarities between the two, save their use of their positions of power to obtain sexual favors and avoid responsibility for their transgressions.