From a sense of relief to a call for healing, Nevada lawmakers on Wednesday reacted to the news that Steve Wynn, the casino developer who helped shape the Las Vegas Strip, resigned as CEO of the company he founded.
But several Nevada politicians downplayed their connection to the billionaire who wasn’t shy about using his money, power and influence to shape politics. Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported allegations that Wynn sexually assaulted female hotel employees over the past three decades.
Attorney General Adam Laxalt, a Republican candidate for governor, declined comment because of a potential conflict of interest because the AG’s office represents the Nevada Gaming Control Board — which is investigating Wynn.
“Because this office provides legal counsel to Nevada’s Gaming Control Board, it will refrain from commenting while the Board conducts its investigation into the allegations,” said Laxalt spokeswoman Monica Moazez. Wynn Resorts gave $20,000 in 2015 and 2017 to Laxalt’s PAC, and Wynn personally gave $5,000 to Laxalt’s campaign in 2015.
Gov. Brian Sandoval did not respond to numerous requests for comment.
But Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Sisolak said Wynn’s resignation probably should have happened sooner.
“It would have been better if it was handled quicker, but I understand he is entitled to make this own decision in due time,” said Sisolak, chairman of the Clark County Commission. “Even though this is never going to be behind us, it’s now over and we can begin healing moving forward.”
Sisolak said he received $15,000 from Wynn’s casino businesses, but donated the money to Shade Tree, a women’s shelter, the day the accusations came out. “I thought it was better spent there than on some TV commercials,” he said.
Clark County Commissioner and Democratic governor candidate Chris Giunchigliani said Wynn stepping down indicates that “he must believe that the women have been truthful.”
“I think it’s the right thing to do for him to step aside and not put a target on the Wynn properties. His behavior is his behavior,” Giunchigliani said. “It’s very disappointing and I would call on women and men to continue coming forward when they believe something is not right.”
Wynn’s political connections span far beyond Nevada. His one-time rivalry with President Donald Trump turned into a friendship and the president made him finance chair of the Republican National Committee. The White House was mum on Wynn.
“That’s a corporate decision, and there’s no reason for the White House to comment at this time,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said.
Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller refused to comment on Wynn, who endorsed Heller last year.
A spokesman for Heller’s re-election campaign said the senator will donate a $5,400 contribution from Wynn to charity.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Jacky Rosen, who is leaving the House to run for Heller’s Senate seat, said Wynn’s resignation is a step toward accountability.
“There should be zero tolerance for sexual harassment in the workplace, no matter how powerful you are,” Rosen said. “I believe the women who had the courage to share their appalling accounts of Mr. Wynn’s behavior.”
Democratic U.S. Rep. Dina Titus said she supports the Congressional Accountability Reform Act, which overhauls the process for responding to harassment and discrimination in Congress.
“Steve Wynn’s resignation proves once again that powerful figures, whether they are in Las Vegas, Hollywood or Washington, cannot escape the repercussions stemming from sexual harassment abuses,” Titus said.
Politicians on both sides of the aisle said Wynn played a vital role in revitalizing the Strip. Sisolak said losing Wynn will be “noticeable,” but the gaming industry will survive without him.
“Our community, industry is bigger than any one person,” he said. “Other people have come and gone, and this is a situation that demanded his resignation.”
Staff writers Debra J. Saunders and Gary Martin contributed to this story.
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