Some Republicans Are Giving Back Steve Wynn’s Money. But Not His Biggest Beneficiaries
Republicans are taking mixed approaches to money they received from Steve Wynn following a report detailing allegations of sexual misconduct against the Las Vegas casino mogul and political donor.
Ohio Senator Rob Portman, who received $5,400 from Wynn in 2016, is giving the money to charities across Ohio that combat human trafficking. Congresswoman Karen Handel, who was elected to Georgia’s 6th district in 2017, donated the $2,700 she received from Wynn to a domestic violence non-profit. House Speaker Paul Ryan will donate $1,000 from Wynn to a Wisconsin charity that works with homeless children. Arizona Senator Jeff Flake and Nevada Senator Dean Heller will give $2,700 and $5,400, respectively, from Wynn to charities they have yet to select.
The Republican Governors Association (RGA), meanwhile, will give $100,000 it received from Wynn’s company in September back to the firm, according to spokesperson Jon Thompson. Thompson added that the RGA will stop accepting donations from Wynn unless the allegations are disproven; it has also cancelled its contract to hold its annual conference at the Wynn Las Vegas in 2020.
But the Republican National Committee is hanging on to Wynn’s money. “Unlike Harvey Weinstein and Al Franken and others, Steve has denied [the allegations]. There is an investigation that’s going to take place. He should be allowed due process, and if he is found of any wrongdoing, we will absolutely return 100% of that money. But we’re going to let due process take place,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel said during a Tuesday appearance on Fox News.
Several Republicans, like Senators Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins, have said the RNC should donate the money it received from Wynn.
The NRSC, meanwhile, did not respond to multiple requests for comment about what it intends to do with Wynn’s money.
After Harvey Weinstein and Al Franken faced sexual misconduct allegations, the RNC and NRSC both insisted that Democrats return donations from them, which many ultimately did. “The Weinstein scandal put Hollywood’s hypocrisy in broad daylight. RT if you agree the DNC should return his donations,” the RNC tweeted on October 9.
The questions over Wynn’s contributions began after the Wall Street Journal reported on Jan. 26 that employees had alleged sexual misconduct against Wynn for decades, citing 150 people who worked with Wynn. The story highlighted a $7.5 million settlement between Wynn and a former manicurist at one of his properties, who said he had forced her to have sex with him, among other details.
Wynn, who denies the allegations, stepped down as RNC finance chair shortly after they came to light. Wynn has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the RNC since the 2016 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. He has also donated to prominent Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and Joe Biden. But Republican groups have by far been the recipients of Wynn’s largest recent donations. Wynn gave $166,000 to the RNC since 2016, while he gave $267,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee over the same period.