Major GOP Donor Steve Wynn Has Been Accused Of Rape, Sexual Harassment Former casino mogul Steve Wynn has been accused of rape, sexual assault and harassment. Still, politicians have continued to accept major campaign contributions from Wynn, who has denied wrongdoing.
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GOP Welcomes Steve Wynn's Millions, Despite Rape And Harassment Allegations

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GOP Welcomes Steve Wynn's Millions, Despite Rape And Harassment Allegations

GOP Welcomes Steve Wynn's Millions, Despite Rape And Harassment Allegations

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/925827821/929022562" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Let's look now at one of the big political donors of the 2020 election season, which is set to be the most expensive in American history. We should say, some details in this story, which runs about four minutes, might be disturbing for some listeners. Two years ago, the casino mogul Steve Wynn lost his position as a Republican fundraiser after allegations that he sexually harassed and assaulted employees, which Wynn denied. But now top Republicans are cashing big checks from him. Here's NPR's Tom Dreisbach.

TOM DREISBACH, BYLINE: After Donald Trump won the 2016 election, he got in touch with Steve Wynn. Wynn had made a fortune running an international casino business. That's how he and Trump got to know each other. And Trump picked Wynn to be finance chair of the Republican National Committee and shouted him out at a White House jobs event in 2017.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Steve Wynn, would you stand up? He's raising so much money for our great Republican Party.

(APPLAUSE)

DREISBACH: Then, in 2018, that all changed.

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DAVID MUIR: Late today, a scandal erupting in Las Vegas. The Wall Street Journal reporting casino mogul Steve Wynn, one of the most powerful men in that city and a powerful player in politics in this country, accused of sexual misconduct.

DREISBACH: The Wall Street Journal reported that dozens of Wynn's employees witnessed alleged sexual harassment and assault by Wynn over the course of decades. The most serious allegation of sexual misconduct stemmed from 2005. It was described in subsequent investigations by casino regulators in both Nevada and Massachusetts. An employee said that she was called into Wynn's office to provide a manicure and, according to her account, Wynn then raped her. Wynn later testified that he believed the encounter was consensual. But he paid a $7.5 million settlement to keep it quiet. Wynn denied any wrongdoing in that case and all others. But in 2018, the head of the Republican Party, Ronna McDaniel, told Fox News she removed Wynn from his position as finance chair.

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RONNA MCDANIEL: So the allegations in The Wall Street Journal were deeply troubling. They were so troubling that within 24 hours, Steve was no longer our finance chair.

DREISBACH: Wynn also resigned from his company. Now, just a few months earlier, McDaniel had called out Democrats for taking money from disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. And so she was asked if Republicans would give back Wynn's money.

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MCDANIEL: He should be allowed due process. And if he is found of any wrongdoing, we will absolutely return 100% of that money.

DREISBACH: Wynn has never faced criminal charges. And attorneys who have represented him did not respond to our requests for comment. But casino regulators in Nevada and Massachusetts did investigate. And they found that the company's leadership under Wynn failed to investigate the repeated allegations of misconduct. Still, the Republican Party did not return Wynn's money even as the new CEO of Wynn's company, Matt Maddox, apologized for failing to address the allegations.

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MATT MADDOX: I began to realize that there were many victims. And those victims felt powerless. And for that, I am deeply remorseful.

DREISBACH: Now Steve Wynn is giving money again. Campaign finance records show he's given more than $5 million to super PACs allied with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He's also given hundreds of thousands of dollars to committees supporting Trump's reelection campaign and Senate Republicans. McConnell's campaign and the Trump campaign declined to comment for this story. The other campaigns and committees did not respond. And so they have not answered questions about why they are willing to take Steve Wynn's contributions despite the allegations.

Tom Dreisbach, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE KILLERS SONG, "BE STILL")

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