It was early last year when billionaire casino mogul Steve Wynn, facing sexual misconduct allegations, resigned as the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. The story has since become even more serious: an investigatory report later painted an ugly portrait of an executive accused of "sexually assaulting or harassing" many women who worked for him.
Just last week, state regulators concluded 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."
Common sense suggests prominent political leaders -- say, the president of the United States, for example -- would want nothing to do with someone in Wynn's position and would go out of their way to keep Wynn at arm's length. And yet, the Associated Press reported over the weekend:
Former Republican National Committee chairman and casino mogul Steve Wynn met with President Donald Trump at the Las Vegas airport following the president's speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition on Saturday. [...]Nevada gambling regulators in February fined his former company Wynn Resorts a record $20 million for failing to investigate the allegations before Wynn resigned.Wynn has denied all allegations against him.
By one account, Wynn greeted Trump on the airport tarmac on Saturday. It's not clear, at least not yet, what the two discussed.
But the larger question is why a sitting president would participate in such a meeting at all.
Of course, this also raises anew questions about why the Republican National Committee kept Wynn's contributions. As regular readers may recall, in the immediate aftermath of the Wynn controversy coming to public light, 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.
To date, the RNC has failed to comment on the reports of Wynn's alleged misconduct and has kept his money.
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 Republican officials hold themselves to the same standards they applied to their rivals?