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Republican financier quits over misconduct claims

January 28, 2018

Republican Party finance chairman Steve Wynn has stepped down after allegations that he routinely took advantage of his employees. US President Donald Trump has called the casino mogul a "great friend."

Steve Wynn
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/C. Krupa

Las Vegas casino billionaire Steve Wynn resigned on Saturday as finance chairman of the Republican National Committee after allegations of decades of sexual misconduct emerged over the weekend.

Several women who worked for Wynn accused him of making unwanted sexual advances and abusing his power to pressure them into performing sexual favors, according to local media reports.

Read more: What do Europeans consider sexual harassment?

The allegations

  • A manicurist said Wynn forced her to have sex in 2005 despite telling him she did not want to and was married. He later paid her $7.5 million (€6 million) in a settlement.
  • A former massage therapist said Wynn instructed her to perform sexual favors during sessions, adding that she felt compelled to comply since he was her boss.
  • Other women relayed similar stories, saying Wynn used his power to manipulate employees into performing sexual favors.
  • Wynn has denied the allegations, saying the "idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous."

Read more: Hollywood women launch anti-harassment campaign

Wynn is the owner of Wynn Resorts, which owns casinos in Las Vegas and Macau
Wynn is the owner of Wynn Resorts, which owns casinos in Las Vegas and MacauImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/J. Locher

Wynn's statement

The Las Vegas casino mogul denied the accusations that he engaged in sexual misconduct, saying: "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 has accused his ex-wife of fomenting the allegations, saying: "The instigation of these accusations is the continued work of my ex-wife, Elaine Wynn, with who I am involved in a terrible and nasty lawsuit in which she is seeking a revised divorce settlement."

Read more: How people are saying #MeToo around the world

However, the avid Trump backer said that he did not want the allegation to distract from the Republican Party's agenda: "The work we are doing to make America a better place is too important to be impaired by this distraction."

How close is Wynn to Trump: During a campaign rally in 2016, Trump described Wynn as a "great friend of mine," adding that "his advice, I like to listen to, I'll be honest with you." Trump reportedly signed off on Wynn's resignation.

Read more: Donald Trump rejects congressional sexual harassment probe

What did Wynn do for the Republican Party: Wynn was the Republican National Committee finance chair, which means he was tasked with increasing financial support for the party and its causes.

What happens next: Wynn Resorts' board of directors on Friday formed a special committee charged with investigating the allegations, according to the Wall Street Journal. The investigative committee is headed by Patricia Mulroy, an ex-member of the Nevada Gaming Commission who serves on the Wynn Resorts board's corporate governance and compliance committees.

ls/rc (Reuters, AFP, AP)