Casino mogul Steve Wynn resigns as top GOP finance chairman

Casino mogul Steve Wynn resigns as top GOP finance chairman

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On the heels of sexual harassment and assault allegations, Steve Wynn has chosen to give up his post as the Republican National Committee’s finance chairman. Wynn, who is the mogul behind the luxury hotels and casinos that bear his name, has been a major Republican donor for years.

How Wynn Became Finance Chairman for the GOP

Wynn amassed a large fortune over the years, and most of it came from commercial properties he had built in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Some of the big-name establishments he had built include:

  • The Golden Nugget
  • The Bellagio
  • The Mirage
  • Treasure Island
  • Wynn
  • Encore

He spent several decades as CEO of Mirage Resorts before selling the company to MGM Grand, and after that was when he began running Wynn Resorts, which he had been CEO of until stepping down amidst the allegations against him. By the end of 2018, his net worth was estimated to be $3.4 billion.

Wynn has officially been a member of the Republican party since 1995, and during that time, he has donated to the party many times (he has given some financial support to the Democrats, as well, and was for Barack Obama during the 2008 Presidential Election).

A major reason for his appointment as financial chairman for the GOP was his considerable donations to the party in recent years, which have included:

  • $2.5 million for the Republic Governors Association
  • $248,000 to the Republican National Committee
  • $833,000 to joint fundraising committees for the party

Wynn became one of the vice-chairmen for President Donald Trump’s inauguration committee after the 2016 election. Just a few months later, Trump decided to make Wynn finance chairman, a post he would end up having for about a year.

Allegations of Sexual Misconduct Tarnish Wynn’s Name

On January 26, 2018, the Wall Street Journal dropped a bombshell of a story wherein dozens claimed that Wynn had committed acts of sexual misconduct. Some said that Wynn pressured his employees to perform sexual acts, and Jorgen Nielsen, who worked as artistic director for a salon located in Wynn Las Vegas, even said that employees would find places to hide when Wynn came around.

One of the claims involved a manicurist, also at Wynn Las Vegas. She alleges that Wynn got a manicure from her, and then forced her to have sex with him. She ended up telling her supervisor about it and filing a report, which went to human resources. Wynn would eventually settle the matter for $7.5 million.

Wynn himself has denied all wrongdoing and even claims that this is all a plot concocted by his ex-wife. He says that she has already threatened ruining his reputation, and that this is how she plans to do it.

Impact on the Republican Party

This is bad news for the Republicans on multiple fronts. The optics on this are terrible, as they always are when a prominent person in your organization gets accused of crimes of this magnitude. It doesn’t help that the Republicans were extremely critical of the Democrats after the news about Harvey Weinstein came out.

At that time, Republicans were asking if the Democrats would return all the money that Weinstein had donated to them. Not only did Wynn donate quite a bit to the Republicans, but as finance chairman, he was also responsible for massive fundraising efforts throughout 2017. In fact, the Republicans set a record for the amount of money they raised over the course of the year – at least for a non-election year – with $112 million. And that doesn’t count December. They beat the Democrats in that regard by $33.5 million.

Now, it’s obvious that no political party will be returning any money. The Republicans accepted Wynn’s resignation and have already replaced him, leaving the job in the hands of Todd Ricketts, who is a co-owner for the Chicago Cubs.

The GOP’s plan to “keep the gravy train” rolling, as one Republican put it, seems to be as follows:

  1. Choose a new finance chairman who is already connected with many big donors.
  2. Continue to raise as much money as possible.
  3. Hope that money translates into wins at the midterm elections.

Considering Trump’s low approval ratings, those midterm elections could prove difficult. And it remain to be seen if the Republicans can stay on track with their donations now that Wynn is gone.