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

The RNC adopts a bizarre posture on Steve Wynn’s contributions

The Republican National Committee announced yesterday that it raised $11.1 million in December, bringing its total for the year to $132.5 million overall. It’s an impressive fundraising haul, to be sure, and it’s the sort of figure the RNC’s finance chair must be eager to brag about.

At least, that’d be true under normal circumstances. Five days ago, the RNC’s finance chair, billionaire casino mogul Steve Wynn, resigned his position following allegations of serious misconduct. Though Wynn insists he’s done nothing wrong, he nevertheless stepped down from his RNC post.

Almost immediately, several Republican officeholders and organizations took steps to disassociate themselves from Wynn’s contributions. The RNC, however, has adopted a different posture.

The chairwoman of the Republican National Committee said Tuesday that the party wouldn’t return donations from Steve Wynn, its former finance chairman who faces allegations of sexual misconduct dating back decades, unless an investigation by his company’s outside directors finds wrongdoing.

In an interview with Fox News, Ronna Romney McDaniel called the allegations against Mr. Wynn, published by The Wall Street Journal last week, “deeply troubling” and noted that Mr. Wynn had stepped down from his post as finance chairman on Saturday. But the RNC has no current plans to refund Mr. Wynn’s donations, she said.

McDaniel noted Wynn’s denial, before adding that the RNC will return 100% of his money – if an investigation launched by Wynn’s company finds compelling evidence of misconduct.

In case this isn’t obvious, the RNC had an entirely different approach when Harvey Weinstein faced related allegations last fall. As we discussed last week, it was just a few months ago that the public first learned about the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and at the time, the RNC seemed eager to exploit the controversy for partisan gain. In fact, the RNC invested considerable energy, not only in trying to tie Weinstein to Democratic candidates he supported, but also in demanding that the DNC return any contributions they received from the 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.

If DNC Chair Tom Perez noted Weinstein’s denial and announced plans to keep the money, I imagine it wouldn’t have gone over especially well.

Complicating matters is the disparate responses within the Republican Party itself. If the Republican Governors Association decided to reject Wynn’s money, why isn’t the Republican National Committee doing the same thing?

For that matter, if McDaniel is inclined to wait to see the results of an investigation from Wynn’s company, why did she accept his resignation?

RNC

The RNC adopts a bizarre posture on Steve Wynn's contributions