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Wynn quits GOP post amid sex misconduct allegations

By
Allen Cone
Las Vegas developer Steve Wynn (C) appears at the New England Patriots' Gillette Stadium in Foxoboro, Mass., on December 4, 2011. The board of Wynn Resorts has formed a special committee to investigate sexual misconduct allegations involving Wynn. Photo by Matthew Healey/UPI
Las Vegas developer Steve Wynn (C) appears at the New England Patriots' Gillette Stadium in Foxoboro, Mass., on December 4, 2011. The board of Wynn Resorts has formed a special committee to investigate sexual misconduct allegations involving Wynn. Photo by Matthew Healey/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Billionaire Steve Wynn resigned as the Republican National Committee finance chairman Saturday after Wynn Resorts' board announced late Friday a special committee will investigate sexual misconduct allegations involving the company's chairman and chief executive officer.

President Donald Trump, who has called Wynn a "great friend," named the casino/hotel mogul to the position after the 2016 election.

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Wynn Resorts, the Las Vegas-based company founded by Wynn, announced its plans to form the committeeafter a Wall Street Journal investigation published Friday morning detailed a decades-long pattern of sexual misconduct by Wynn based on dozens of interviews with former employees.

Among those claims, the newspaper noted that manicurists and massage workers were highly paid but felt they were pressured and felt intimidated when Wynn made requests of them.

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A married manicurist claimed Wynn "forced her to have sex" with him not long after he opened his flagship Wynn Las Vegas. The newspaper reported Wynn later paid the manicurist a $7.5 million settlement.

After the Journal report, Wynn Resorts stock shares dropped 10 percent on Nasdaq.

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"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," the board said in a statement in the Journal.

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Earlier, Wynn said in a statement: "The idea that I 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."

The special committee of independent directors will be headed by Patricia Mulroy, a former member of the Nevada Gaming Commission, one of two bodies that regulate casinos in the state.

The other regulatory body, the Nevada Gaming Control Board, "is aware of the situation and we're reviewing the information," said board chairman Becky Harris.

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In Massachusetts, where a Wynn casino is under construction, the state gambling regulator said it is conducting a regulatory review.

RNC chair Ronna Romney McDaniel said she accepted Wynn's resignation, Politico reported.

"The unbelievable success we have achieved must continue," Wynn said in a statement announcing his resignation. "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."

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Wynn and McDaniel hosted a fundraiser last weekend for Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla. to mark the first year in office.

Wynn, who has a net worth of $3.5 billion, according to Forbes, has donated $1.5 million to the RNC, the National Republican Congressional Committee and other party committees over five years, The Washington Post reported. He has also donated to Sen. Dean Heller, who is running for re-election in Nevada, as well as Sens. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Tim Scott and Patrick Tomey, according to Federal Election Commission records.

The RNC has not commented on the allegations.

Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who serves as deputy chairman of the RNC's finance committee, told NBC News: "Steve is a truly great man who has been the driving force behind the RNC finance committee."

But he also donated to Democrats, including $2,700 to Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.

Wynn, who turned 76 on Saturday, built the Bellagio, Encore, Mirage and Treasure Island in Las Vegas. In 2000, Wynn sold his company, Mirage Resorts, to MGM Grand Inc.

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Later he formed another company, opening Wynn Las Vegas in 2005 and Encore Las Vegas in 2008 on land that included the famous Desert Inn. Wynn has plans to add a 1,000-room hotel tower and a 38-acre lake on a 130-acre parcel where the Wynn Golf Club is located.

He also built hotel/casinos in Macau, China.

The company has 13,000 employees, 4,750 rooms in Las Vegas and reported more than $4.4 billion in revenue for fiscal year 2016 in Las Vegas and Macau, according to Vault.com.

In a statement, Wynn Resorts said the company requires all workers to undergo anti-harassment training and "since the inception of the company, not one complaint was made to that hotline regarding Mr. Wynn."

Wynn said the Journal article was the "continued work of my ex-wife Elaine Wynn, with whom I am involved in a terrible and nasty lawsuit in which she is seeking a revised settlement."'

But the Journal said it based its reporting on interviews with 150 current and former Wynn employees and that "none reached out to the Journal on their own."

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