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Sunday
Jan282018

Steve Wynn steps down from RNC in face of sexual misconduct claims

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Casino mogul Steve Wynn has stepped down as finance chairman for the Republican National Committee just over 24 hours after publication of multiple allegations of sexual assault and harassment against him.

"Effective today I am resigning as Finance Chairman of the RNC," the 76-year-old said in a statement on Saturday as pressure mounted on the RNC to address the allegations against him.

"The unbelievable success we have achieved must continue, Wynn said The work we are doing to make America a better place is too important to be impaired by this distraction. I thank the President for the opportunity to serve and wish him continued success."

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel earlier Saturday issued a statement saying, "Today I accepted Steve Wynn's resignation as Republican National Committee Finance Chair."

The Wall Street Journal on Friday reported that Wynn has been accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of people who shared similar accounts of his alleged pattern of abuse. Interviews conducted by the Journal with people who have worked at Wynn's casinos detailed a decades-long pattern of sexual misconduct by him, with some saying he pressured employees to perform sex acts, the Journal reported.

Wynn's attorneys declined to comment to the Journal. ABC News has not been able to reach a representative for Wynn for comment.

But Wynn said in a statement that the idea that he "ever assaulted any woman is preposterous."

"We find ourselves in a world where people can make allegations, regardless of the truth, and a person is left with the choice of weathering insulting publicity or engaging in multi-year lawsuits," Wynn said in the statement. "It is deplorable for anyone to find themselves in this situation."

Since publication of the Journal story, the RNC has remained silent on the allegations against its finance chair. Apart from its chairwoman's brief statement Saturday accepting Wynn's resignation, it has not commented on the Journal story or the allegations it contained.

Its silence led some political opponents to accuse the RNC of hypocrisy. In the fall, after reports of alleged sexual assault and harassment by Harvey Weinstein, Republicans called out Democrats who didn’t immediately give away political contributions they had received from the disgraced Hollywood producer.

Some liberal publications like Think Progress and Salon called out the RNC for its “silence."

President Donald Trump has in the past credited Wynn with helping the RNC rake in a record fundraising haul, saying of him during a July speech announcing new jobs, “Another big investor in our country, Steve Wynn, would you stand up? He’s raising so much money for our great Republican Party … Did a great job.”

Wynn has himself donated over $1.3 million to the RNC since 2000, according to Federal Election Commission records. He has also previously donated to Democrats such as former Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York and former Nevada Sen. Harry Reid.

On Oct. 5, when The New York Times broke its story on the accusations against Weinstein, at least four Democratic senators -- Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut -- said they would make charitable donations equal to amounts donated to them by Weinstein.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC), which had taken in more than $290,000 from Weinstein, according to the FEC, released a statement on the afternoon of Oct. 6 that said it would donate $30,000 of his contributions to women’s advocacy groups.

Still, the RNC was strong in its attack against Democrats whom Weinstein had donated to in the past, blasting out emails featuring a running chart purportedly listing Democrats who had taken money from Weinstein over the years and indicating whether they had returned or donated the money away in light of the allegations.

The DNC’s donation of $30,000 to women’s groups was derided by RNC spokeswoman Cassie Smedile as Democrats’ attempting “to launder the dirty Harvey Weinstein money to fellow Democratic political organizations."

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer was among the Republicans who shared a chart alleging to detail which Democrats had received donations from Weinstein, and which had returned or donated them after the allegations broke.

Following the Journal story about Wynn, the DNC sent an email using the same words against the RNC as Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel used after the Weinstein allegations surfaced.

The DNC email read, “In the exact words of RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, ‘If you stand for treating women well and you stand for the respect of women, you shouldn't take money from somebody who treated women with the absolute highest level of disrespect.’”

Not all Republicans were silent about the Wynn allegations.

Former RNC spokesman Doug Heye sent out a series of tweets Friday afternoon calling on the RNC to cut its ties with Wynn, with one post noting how “aggressive” the RNC had been in calling out Democrats after the Weinstein allegations.

In the Journal story, former employees of Wynn said their awareness of his power in Las Vegas, as well as the knowledge that positions at his resorts were among the best-paying in the city, caused them to feel dependent on him and intimidated when he made requests of them.

The board of Wynn Resorts meanwhile announced Friday evening that it had formed a committee "to investigate allegations contained in the January 26, 2018 Wall Street Journal article."

The Wynn Resorts statement said, "The Board is deeply committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all of the Company’s employees and to operating with the highest ethical standards."

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