Casino billionaire Steve Wynn accused of sexual misconduct and abuse
by Andrew Millman
Last week, the Wall Street Journal published a report on casino mogul Steve Wynn, after speaking to over 150 current and former employees. The article accused Wynn, one of the most prominent casino owners in Las Vegas, of sexual harassment and abuse of multiple women over many years. The report also detailed Wynn’s $7.5 million settlement with a former employee, who accused him of coercing her into having sex with him in 2005. Wynn is accused of harassing numerous employees. The Journal reports that female employees would have nervous breakdowns, hide in bathrooms, or outright refuse when Wynn requested to see them.
The Journal has reported that these allegations go back decades, and the article details a horrific workplace environment in which the harassment and abuse took place. Wynn, who is the CEO and chairman of Wynn Resorts, is accused of regularly pressuring some employees to perform sex acts with him. The main targets of Wynn’s harassment were the casino’s massage therapists, whom he would regularly have in his office alone with him. According to the Journal, the billionaire’s German Shepherd dogs, who were trained to respond to his commands in German, were ubiquitous in his office and intimidated many of the women. Wynn has denied all of the allegations, claiming that they are the work of his ex-wife Elaine Wynn, with whom he is in a prolonged legal battle over her shares in his company. However, Wynn Resorts’ stock value dropped over 10% on Friday when the article was first published. This took over $2 billion off the company’s market capitalization. This means that his wife lost a substantial amount of money as well, so it would not make sense for her to have been the source of this. Furthermore, the Journal contacted over 150 people for the article, none of whom reached out to the newspaper first. Also, the Wynn Resorts board of directions has launched an investigation into the actions of their chairman.
The revelations are the latest in the ongoing #MeToo movement, which has been a focus of national attention since the allegations against Harvey Weinstein were made public. Steve Wynn is probably one of the most prominent and influential people to be accused of sexual misconduct. In addition to being a billionaire casino mogul, Wynn is also the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, and responsible for the party’s fundraising operation. Wynn has previously donated to both parties, a necessity in the highly-regulated Nevada gambling industry. He shifted to primarily supporting Republicans after the passage of Obamacare and was a top financial supporter of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. He was the co-chair, along with fellow casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, of Trump’s inauguration committee. He has also been a top donor to Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) and the Republican Party’s various fundraising groups, including the Republican National Committee, Republican National Senatorial Committee, and National Republican Congressional Committee.
Democrats have already seized on the opportunity to criticize Republicans, who vocally called for the Democrats to return all of Harvey Weinstein’s donations, or donate the money to charity. In October, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said, “if you stand for treating women well and you stand for the respect of women, you shouldn’t take money from someone who treated women with the absolute highest level of disrespect,” about Democrats who accepted donations from Weinstein. Many Democrats donated amounts equivalent to their Weinstein donations to charity. The Republicans have so far been silent on the Wynn scandal, highlighting the growing divide between the two parties’ reactions to the #MeToo movement. Democrats accused of harassment, including Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and Representative John Conyers (D-MI), have been forced to resign. Republicans, on the other hand continued to support Roy Moore’s failed senate campaign after several credible allegations of child molestation. Rep. Pat Meehan (R-PA) had been a top supporter of the congressional effort to combat harassment, until it was recently discovered that he sexually harassed a staff member. He has since announced that he will not seek reelection.
Since the start of the #MeToo movement in October, revelations of sexual misconduct have come out against one senator, Al Franken; and seven congressmen, including Conyers and Meehan, in addition to Blake Farenthold (R-TX), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Ruben Kihuen (D-NV) and Eric Massa (D-NY). There have also been allegations against dozens of state and local officials in at least seventeen states. There also remain the nineteen women who have accused President Trump of sexual misconduct. On Saturday, January 27th, Steve Wynn resigned as the RNC’s finance chairman, but that will not be the end of the Republicans’ problems. Wynn gave millions to Republican candidates, including vulnerable incumbents such as Dean Heller. Also, if credible allegations of sexual misconduct are enough to force the RNC finance chairman to resign, then equally-credible allegations should have some consequences for the president of the United States, but that has not been the case so far.