Casino mogul Steve Wynn during a news conference in Medford, Mass., Tuesday, March 15, 2016.
Charles Krupa/AP Photo

Democrats press RNC to give up Steve Wynn’s contributions

It’s been about a year since casino mogul Steve Wynn, facing sexual misconduct allegations, parted ways with the company he helped create, and resigned from his role as the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. As regular readers may recall, in the immediate aftermath, the party said it intended to keep the money it had received from Wynn, despite the scandal.

RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel eventually said, however, that she’d consider returning the money, if an investigation found compelling evidence of wrongdoing.

With that in mind, the Wall Street Journal  reported yesterday:

Wynn Resorts Ltd. executives turned a blind eye as Steve Wynn over more than a decade was accused of sexually assaulting or harassing cocktail servers, salon workers and flight attendants employed by his casino empire, according to allegations contained in a regulator’s report that the company agreed largely matches its own findings.

The report, known as a complaint and released in tandem Monday with a proposed settlement between Wynn Resorts and the Nevada Gaming Control Board, was prompted by an investigation in The Wall Street Journal last year that described sexual misconduct allegations against Mr. Wynn. Those included that in 2005 he had paid a settlement of $7.5 million to a former manicurist who accused him of forcing her to have sex with him.

Following up on the Journal’s reporting, the Democratic National Committee’s Elizabeth Renda asked how the RNC will “respond to the conclusive evidence of Wynn’s sexual misconduct presented by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.” Renda added, “What more is it going to take for McDaniel to keep her promise?”

That’s hardly an unreasonable question.

Part of the problem for the Republican National Committee is that it demanded a certain set of standards. Circling back to our earlier coverage, when Harvey Weinstein faced related allegations in 2017, the RNC invested considerable energy, not only in trying to tie Weinstein to Democrats, but also in demanding that the DNC return any contributions it received from the disgraced Hollywood producer.

When the DNC was slow to respond, the Republican National Committee intensified its focus. It didn’t matter that Weinstein had no formal connection to Democratic politics; he was a Democratic donor and for the RNC, that was enough. “If the DNC truly stands up for women like they say they do, then returning Weinstein’s dirty money should be a no-brainer,” McDaniel said in October 2017.

Isn’t it fair to wonder whether the money from the former RNC finance chairman is just as dirty? Shouldn’t Republicans hold themselves to the same standards they applied to their rivals?

To be sure, this is not to say the RNC has decided to keep Steve Wynn’s money. I don’t know that to be true. The Wall Street Journal article was published about 24 hours ago, and it’s entirely possible that Republican officials will follow through on their earlier commitments and part ways with Wynn’s contributions.

But as best as I can tell, however, that has not yet happened.