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Steve Wynn resumes raising money for GOP candidates, causes

WASHINGTON — Steve Wynn, the former Wynn Resorts CEO and Republican National Committee finance chairman who resigned from both jobs last year amid sexual misconduct allegations, appeared at a New York City fundraiser for President Donald Trump last week.

Last year, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told Fox News the party would “absolutely return 100 percent” of the $375,000 that Wynn and his wife, Andrea Hissom, donated to the RNC in 2017 — if Wynn “was found (guilty) of any wrongdoing.” The RNC has not returned that money.

Now Wynn is making more six-figure contributions to the GOP.

On Monday, the RNC confirmed a Politico report that Wynn gave $248,500 to the RNC in April — news that Democrats were happy to broadcast. According to Politico, Wynn also donated $150,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

“Time and again, we heard RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel promise that the GOP would return Steve Wynn’s donations if investigations confirmed the disturbing allegations of sexual misconduct against him,” said Elizabeth Renda, Democratic National Committee women’s media director. “McDaniel not only broke that promise, but went on to accept hundreds of thousands of dollars more from her disgraced former finance chairman.”

McDaniel opened the door in 2017 when she tweeted, “If the DNC truly stands up for women like they say they do, then returning (Hollywood producer Harvey) Weinstein’s dirty money should be a no-brainer.” News reports about Weinstein’s abusive treatment of women in the entertainment industry, which in some cases led to financial settlements, spawned the #MeToo movement.

Like Trump, whom dozens of women accused of sexual misbehavior ahead of the 2016 election, Wynn has denied sexually harassing anyone.

The Nevada Gaming Commission fined Wynn Resorts a record $20 million in February for failing to investigate complaints from at least eight women that they were sexually harassed at the workplace.

In April, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission fined Wynn Resorts $35 million for not acting on sexual harassment allegations against Wynn and for failing to disclose a $7.5 million settlement with an accuser.

At one point, Wynn Resorts proposed banning Wynn from the buildings that bear his trademark name.

Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts have been in talks about MGM purchasing the $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbor, which is scheduled to open in June.

In a statement, McDaniel noted that Wynn “is entitled to the presumption of innocence and due process. Over the last year and a half, multiple investigations into the allegations against Steve Wynn have concluded. Throughout this entire process, Steve has repeatedly and unequivocally denied wrongdoing, and he has not been charged with or found guilty of any crimes. At this point, there is no reason for refusing his support.”

Unless authorities try to convict Wynn, Republicans have a right to keep the money, said GOP strategist Alice Stewart. If that changes, “then that’s a completely different deal.” Many Republicans have known Wynn for decades, she added.

Thursday’s fundraiser, held at the New York apartment of Cantor Fitzgerald CEO Howard Lutnick, raised more than $5 million. With Wynn as finance chairman, the RNC raised more than $120 million in 2017 — a record for a non-election year.

Trump and Wynn have known each other for decades; they were bitter casino-owning rivals in Atlantic City in the 1980s and 1990s. In “The Art of the Deal,” Trump described Wynn as “a very strange guy,” while Wynn told New York Magazine that Trump was “disturbed.”

But over the years, the rivalry turned to friendship. Trump and Wynn spoke with each other on an airport tarmac last month when Air Force One flew to McCarran International Airport so Trump could address the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Contact Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7391. Follow @DebraJSaunders on Twitter.

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