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RNC Finance Chair Steve Wynn faces misconduct allegations

When the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, the RNC attacked the DNC for accepting Weinstein money. Now it's the RNC's Steve Wynn facing allegations.
Casino mogul Steve Wynn during a news conference in Medford, Mass., Tuesday, March 15, 2016.
Casino mogul Steve Wynn during a news conference in Medford, Mass., Tuesday, March 15, 2016.

Casino mogul Steve Wynn is one of a small number of prominent American billionaires who maintains a relatively high public profile in the worlds of politics and business. It's one of several reasons today's new reporting from the Wall Street Journal is important.

Not long after the billionaire casino mogul Steve Wynn opened his flagship Wynn Las Vegas in 2005, a manicurist who worked there arrived at the on-site salon visibly distressed following an appointment in Mr. Wynn's office.Sobbing, she told a colleague Mr. Wynn had forced her to have sex, and she repeated that to others later.After she gave Mr. Wynn a manicure, she said, he pressured her to take her clothes off and told her to lie on the massage table he kept in his office suite, according to people she gave the account to. The manicurist said she told Mr. Wynn she didn't want to have sex and was married, but he persisted in his demands that she do so, and ultimately she did disrobe and they had sex, the people remember her saying.

According to the reporting, the woman's supervisor learned of the alleged incident, filed a report within the company, and Wynn later agreed to a $7.5 million settlement with the manicurist. References to this were apparently included in a lawsuit filed by Wynn's ex-wife.

And while Wynn denied the allegations, calling the idea that he ever assaulted any woman "preposterous," the Wall Street Journal  added that it interviewed dozens of people who worked in Wynn casinos, who described "behavior that cumulatively would amount to a decades-long pattern of sexual misconduct" by Wynn, including allegations that he pressured employees to perform sex acts.

The reporting includes a significant number of details, and it's well worth your time. Indeed, this is a controversy with several key elements -- the number of people who've raised allegations, the seriousness of the allegations, the profile of the man facing the accusations -- including a political angle.

Because Steve Wynn isn't just a casino mogul; he's also the finance chair of the Republican National Committee.

Just a few months ago, as the public was first learning about the Harvey Weinstein scandal, 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," Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel said in October.

In retrospect, this was a risky posture, not only because of the allegations of misconduct made against the president, but also because of the man the president asked to help lead the RNC's fundraising efforts. As of today, Wynn is the RNC's finance chair, a friend of Donald Trump, and a man accused of "behavior that cumulatively would amount to a decades-long pattern of sexual misconduct."

Will the RNC force him out of his post? Will Republicans face pressure to return his donations? Will it be "a no-brainer"?