Wisconsin Republicans to donate contributions tied to Steve Wynn
Sexual misconduct allegations against GOP megadonor Steve Wynn have prompted Wisconsin Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, to donate campaign contributions connected to the casino magnate.
The Republican Governors Association, formerly led by Gov. Scott Walker, also said Monday it would be returning $100,000 that Wynn Resorts made to the organization in this election cycle, but that it wouldn’t be able to return funds from past cycles that have already been spent.
“The allegations made against Mr. Wynn ... are extremely serious,” RGA spokesman Jon Thompson said.
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Wynn pressured spa employees at his Las Vegas resort to have sexual contact with him over the course of many years. Wynn called the allegations “preposterous.” Nevertheless, Wynn stepped down as the Republican National Committee’s finance chairman over the weekend.
The allegations come in the wake of sexual misconduct scandals involving powerful men in Hollywood, media, business and politics, including Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, who resigned last year.
The allegations of inappropriate groping against Franken led Republicans to demand that Democrats return donations from his political action committee. U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and congressional candidate Randy Bryce, who is challenging Ryan, were among several Democrats who heeded that call. The Wisconsin Democratic Party also donated movie producer Harvey Weinstein’s $5,000 contribution from 2010 to groups that combat sexual abuse.
Wynn has given millions to Republican political committees and candidates. He also has contributed smaller amounts to some Democrats.
Ryan’s campaign is donating a $1,000 contribution from a Wynn Resorts PAC in 2016 to Project 1649, a local charity in Rock County that supports homeless children, spokesman Jeremy Adler said.
Johnson’s campaign is also planning to donate $5,400 it received from Wynn to Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services in Oshkosh.
The Republican Party of Wisconsin plans to donate a $10,000 contribution from Wynn to “organizations that help victims of sexual harassment and abuse,” according to a spokesman.
And Walker’s political group Our American Revival also said it plans to donate $5,000 from Wynn to “an organization that supports victims of sexual harassment and assault.”
The RGA received $250,000 from Wynn Resorts in December 2016, according to records provided by liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now.
The RGA’s Thompson said the organization is canceling its contract with Wynn Resorts to hold its 2020 annual conference at the Wynn Las Vegas, losing a $10,000 nonrefundable deposit.
The RGA also won’t accept future contributions from Wynn Resorts or Wynn himself “unless the allegations against Mr. Wynn are proven to be false.” And the company is no longer part of the RGA’s corporate membership program.
Thompson said the RGA can’t return the $2.5 million it has received from Wynn Resorts over the past 18 years because the money “no longer exists, and therefore cannot be returned.”