Casino magnate Steve Wynn, a major political donor who recently became finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, was accused on Friday of sexual misconduct by employees at his Wynn Resorts empire, raising questions about Wynn’s future bankrolling GOP candidates and other groups.
Wynn is a rival-turned-friend of President Donald Trump and longtime Republican donor, though he also gave funds to Democrats prior to 2010. The allegations against Wynn, published midday Friday by The Wall Street Journal, include that Wynn pressuring a manicurist into having sex with him at his Wynn Las Vegas casino in 2005 and paid a $7.5 million settlement over the incident.
Wynn has been a prolific Republican donor, particularly over the past decade: He donated more than $2.5 million to the Republican Governors Association since 2012 — a massive sum that the RGA has spent to help elect GOP governors across the country. Wynn has also been a top donor to several individual gubernatorial campaigns, including $100,000 to former RNC chair Ed Gillespie’s unsuccessful campaign for governor of Virginia last year.
Wynn has donated $411,000 to the NRSC over the last five years, according to campaign finance records. He also gave $248,000 to the RNC and $100,000 to the NRCC during that time. Neither the RNC, RGA nor the NRSC returned a request for comment on Friday.
He’s also given millions to the political powerhouse Crossroads GPS, POLITICO reported in 2012. Wynn was a close friend of Karl Rove, who was running the Crossroads network of outside groups at the time. The pair were close enough that in 2012, Wynn loaned his private jet to Rove for the latter’s honeymoon in Italy.
In a statement emailed to POLITICO, Wynn said that the allegations are “the continued work of my ex-wife Elaine Wynn, with whom I am involved in a terrible and nasty lawsuit in which she is seeking a revised divorce settlement.”
“The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous,” Wynn added. “We find ourselves in a world where people can make allegations, regardless of the truth, and a person is left with the choice of weathering insulting publicity or engaging in multi-year lawsuits.” A Wynn Resorts spokesperson said in a separate statement that “Wynn Resorts is committed to operating with the highest ethical standards and maintaining a safe and respectful culture.”
While most groups Wynn donated to did not immediately respond to a request for comment, a spokesperson for the Wisconsin GOP said it would donate a $10,000 contribution from Wynn to “organizations that help victims of sexual harassment and abuse.”
The allegations against Wynn are the latest in a string of sexual harassment claims against wealthy and high-profile men that began when The New York Times published an October article detailing allegations against film mogul Harvey Weinstein stretching back decades.
Weinstein’s history of donating to Democratic candidates quickly became a political issue after the allegations came to light. Weinstein had given more than $300,000 to the Democratic National Committee over the years, and the allegations raised against him sparked an outcry from Republicans who said the DNC should return the money. The DNC pledged to give more than $30,000 of the Weinstein donations to groups that help elect women. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee kept the more than $100,000 it had received from Weinstein.
"If you stand for treating women well and you stand for the respect of women, you shouldn't take money from somebody who treated women with the absolute highest level of disrespect,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel said to CNN at the time.
A slew of Senate Democrats also returned donations from former Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) or his political action committee after he was first accused of sexual harassment in November. Franken eventually resigned.
One of Wynn’s Las Vegas casinos hosted the RGA’s annual meeting in 2015, with more than two dozen Republican governors and GOP operatives and lobbyists of all stripes in attendance. The RGA has spent more than $1.2 million at Wynn-owned properties since 2012.