Just months after the Republican Party worked to tie Democrats to alleged serial sexual abuser Harvey Weinstein, the GOP’s chief fundraiser has been accused of pressuring multiple women, over the course of decades, into performing sex acts.
The Wall Street Journal interviewed multiple women who say Steve Wynn, the Republican National Committee finance chairman and one of Vegas’s premiere casino developers, sexually harassed or abused them, including forcing them to have intercourse. Wynn denied the allegations in a statement to the Journal.
The report nonetheless puts the RNC in a bind after it made a show of demanding that Democrats return money that Weinstein donated to their campaigns over his years of activity in party fundraising circles. Numerous Democrats ended up giving their Weinstein donations to either charities or, in some cases, political groups who work to elect progressive female lawmakers. Officials at the RNC and those close to it deemed such giving insufficient and accused other lawmakers of being complicit in not forcefully condemning Weinstein.
The RNC, which last year chose not to distance itself from another official credibly accused of sexual harassment—Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore—did not respond to a request for comment as to whether they would now do the same. Nor did Sean Spicer, the president’s former press secretary and the committee’s former top strategist, who was particularly aggressive in criticizing Democrats after the Weinstein revelations.
Wynn has donated more than $2 million to Republican campaigns, party organs, and interest groups since 2001, according to FEC records. That includes more than $1.3 million to the Republican National Committee (compared with the $300,0000 in donations that Weinstein gave to the DNC) and the party’s House and Senate campaign arms. He also bundled between $250,000 and $500,000 for Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign.
Wynn has also contributed to Democrats, such as the party’s former Senate leader, Nevada’s Harry Reid. He was friends with other prominent Democrats, including longtime Harlem congressman Charlie Rangel.
But the vast majority of Wynn’s political contributions, and public advocacy, have been directed towards Republicans. In 2014, Wynn got into a public spat with George Clooney after the actor alleged that Wynn had called President Barack Obama an "asshole." Years later, he became a booster of Donald Trump.
In addition to his donations in support of Trump’s election, Wynn spearheaded fundraising for the president’s inaugural committee, which raked in a record-smashing $107 million. He was subsequently appointed as the RNC’s chief moneyman. Under his purview, the RNC has recruited other fundraisers close to the president, such as Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime attorney.
Wynn’s relationship with Trump goes back decades, and has been, at least for public show, a rather love-hate reality-TV-style affair. A 1998 New York magazine article documented their feud, and that “Trump and Wynn despise each other so much that they’ve aligned themselves with rival morning-radio proxies.”
However, in the years since, the two grew closer, to the point that Wynn became one of Trump’s top political allies. Most recently, Wynn co-hosted last Saturday’s gala and fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago celebrating the one-year anniversary of Trump’s inauguration, with proceeds going toward the RNC and the Trump re-election campaign. Ticket prices ranged from $100,000 to $250,000. President Trump was supposed to headline the event, but ultimately could not make it due to the government shutdown.
The White House and Trump reelection campaign did not respond to requests for comment on the Wynn allegations.
Wynn also recently co-hosted a Fox News special titled The Wise Guys. In a statement to The Daily Beast, the network wrote: “We will not be booking Steve Wynn on any potential future installments of The Wise Guys, if it moves forward beyond a one-off special.”
And thus Fox News moved faster to dump an accused sexual-assaulter than the Republican National Committee did.
—With reporting from Julia Arciga and Sam Stein.