In the recent past, Republican candidates wanted nothing to do with Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn. As Axios reported, the party has apparently changed its mind.
Steve Wynn is re-engaging in midterm races this year, and Republicans who distanced themselves from the casino mogul after sexual misconduct allegations are now happy to take his money.
For those who may need a refresher, let's take a stroll down memory lane.
As Donald Trump's presidency got underway four years ago, the Republican National Committee announced that Wynn would serve as the party's national finance chairman. (He oversaw a team of deputy finance chairs who proved to be quite controversial in their own right.) Wynn's role was relatively short-lived: The casino mogul resigned a year later in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations.
As regular readers may recall, the story grew more serious in the months that followed: An investigatory report later painted a portrait of an executive accused of "sexually assaulting or harassing" many women who worked for him. In April 2019, state regulators released a report concluding that Wynn's company "ran a longstanding, sophisticated cover-up to protect founder Steve Wynn from allegations by employees that he had engaged in sexual misconduct against them."
In addition to stepping down from his leadership post at the RNC, Wynn, who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, also stepped down from the company that bears his name.
The controversies did not go unnoticed by Republican candidates, many of whom didn't want to be associated with his contributions. In 2018, Nevada's Adam Laxalt donated Wynn's contributions to charity. Ohio's Jane Timken, who led the state GOP in 2018, did the same thing.
Two years later, Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine not only returned Wynn's contribution, she said ahead of her re-election bid, "I don't even think it's a close call to return the money."
In 2021, however, Republicans have come to the opposite conclusion. In April, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy not only celebrated Wynn's financial support, the California Republican also boasted about working with the casino mogul in the future.
According to Axios' reporting, McCarthy is hardly alone. GOP Senate hopefuls such as Laxalt and Timken, who distanced themselves from Wynn's money in 2018, are welcoming his contributions ahead of the 2022 cycle. They have plenty of company:
In addition to Timken, [Ohio's Josh] Mandel and Laxalt, Wynn's donated to the Senate campaigns of Mark Brnovich in Arizona and Eric Schmitt in Missouri. In March, he gave $771,900 to Take Back the House, a joint fundraising committee that disbursed the funds to a group of House Republican candidates. Wynn also has directly supported the House campaign of former Trump Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in Montana, and the re-election campaign for Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas).
Party officials haven't yet explained why Wynn's money was problematic in the recent past, but perfectly acceptable now.