National News

Casino Mogul Resigns as Finance Chairman of RNC

Posted January 27, 2018 5:10 p.m. EST
Updated January 27, 2018 5:12 p.m. EST

WASHINGTON — Stephen Wynn, the billionaire casino mogul and prominent political donor, has stepped down as finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. He left the post, for which he had been hand-picked by President Donald Trump, after being accused of a yearslong pattern of sexual misconduct with his casino employees.

Wynn had faced growing calls to step aside in the wake of a detailed investigative report in The Wall Street Journal on Friday that said Wynn had frequently demanded naked massages from female employees, and had sometimes pressured them to engage in sexual intercourse or to perform sex acts on him.

In a statement Saturday, the committee’s chairwoman, Ronna Romney McDaniel, said, “Today I accepted Steve Wynn’s resignation as Republican National Committee finance chair.” The committee had remained silent for more than a day until McDaniel spoke to Trump, who has a long-standing friendship with Wynn.

Wynn said Saturday evening that he was resigning to eliminate a “distraction” for the party. “The unbelievable success we have achieved must continue,” he said in a statement. “The work we are doing to make America a better place is too important to be impaired by this distraction. I thank the president for the opportunity to serve and wish him continued success.”

A day before, Wynn had dismissed any claims of sexual misconduct as “preposterous.”

The committee is expected to consider a replacement at a previously planned meeting this coming week in Washington. “This is an important position, so they’re going to have to look carefully to find the right person,” said Ronald Weiser, a Michigan real estate developer and former finance chairman for the committee. Wynn’s decision to step down was first reported by Politico.

Wynn, who turned 76 on Saturday, was appointed to the position shortly after the 2016 presidential election. He hosted a fundraiser this past week at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida estate.

The casino mogul and his companies have donated more than $5.2 million over the years to a mix of Republican and Democratic candidates and committees. On Friday, Democrats called for the Republican committee and Republican candidates to return donations from Wynn, noting that Republicans had issued similar demands after multiple women came forward to accuse Harvey Weinstein, a prominent Democratic donor, of sexual assault.

It remained unclear Saturday whether Republicans would move to give away their Wynn money.

Wynn is one of the most prominent leaders in the casino industry, helping to transform the Las Vegas Strip with his ornate casinos — which once included the Bellagio, the Mirage, Treasure Island and Wynn — glamorous restaurants and exotic attractions like circuses. He made more than $28 million in total compensation from Wynn Resorts for 2016.

On Friday, the Wynn Resorts board met to form an independent committee of directors to investigate the allegations, saying in a statement that it was “deeply committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all of the company’s employees and to operating with the highest ethical standards.”

The stock value of Wynn’s company fell sharply Friday as trading closed for the week, and Massachusetts gambling officials said they had opened a review into Wynn’s behavior, given his company’s plans to open a $2.4 billion casino resort near Boston next year.