Republican finance chair and Las Vegas mogul Steve Wynn engaged in decades of sexual misconduct with his employees, according to a new bombshell report by Alexandra Berzon, Chris Kirkham, Elizabeth Bernstein, and Kate O’Keeffe in the Wall Street Journal.
The Journal reached out to more than 150 people who have worked for Wynn, who is the chair and chief executive of Wynn Resorts and was involved in the construction of major Las Vegas properties such as the Mirage, Treasure Island, Bellagio, Wynn, and Encore casinos. The publication heard back from dozens of people that Wynn repeatedly sexually harassed employees and pressured them to perform sex acts.
One woman said that Wynn forced her to have sex in 2005:
After she gave Mr. Wynn a manicure, she said, he pressured her to take her clothes off and told her to lie on the massage table he kept in his office suite, according to people she gave the account to. The manicurist said she told Mr. Wynn she didn’t want to have sex and was married, but he persisted in his demands that she do so, and ultimately she did disrobe and they had sex, the people remember her saying.
Others told stories of Wynn making sexual advances. Some said that during massage sessions, Wynn would remove a towel to expose his penis and ask massage therapists to touch him. One of these women said she complied, terrified of losing her job.
The Journal explained that on top of potentially losing their jobs, workers worried that upsetting Wynn would ruin their career prospects in other parts of the industry, where Wynn is powerful. They were also physically intimidated in some cases, such as when Wynn would make the requests in a small office space with one or more of his German shepherds present.
The abuse was apparently well-known among Wynn’s employees — to the point that some took steps to protect one another. The Journal reported: “Former employees said they sometimes entered fake appointments in the books to help other female workers get around a request for services in Mr. Wynn’s office or arranged for others to pose as assistants so they wouldn’t be alone with him. They told of female employees hiding in the bathroom or back rooms when they learned he was on the way to the salon.”
Wynn denied the allegations in a written statement to the Journal, saying that “[t]he idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous.” He added, “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. It is deplorable for anyone to find themselves in this situation.”
Wynn blamed the allegations on his ex-wife Elaine Wynn, “with whom I am involved in a terrible and nasty lawsuit in which she is seeking a revised divorce settlement.”
The Wall Street Journal said it reached out to employees on its own and did not speak to Wynn’s ex-wife. Her attorney said the claim that she instigated the article “is just not true.”
Wynn has donated millions to Republicans
President Donald Trump and Wynn have had a rocky past. According to Bloomberg, Trump, who also owns properties in Las Vegas, previously called Wynn a “scumbag,” while Wynn said Trump was “all hat, no cattle.”
But the two seem to have made up. In a photo posted on Instagram in 2013, Trump posed with Wynn, with the caption, “With terrific Steve Wynn at dinner last night.”
Trump, of course, has faced his own allegations of sexual harassment and assault, with more than a dozen women coming forward with allegations against him.
One reason the two made up may be all the money that Wynn has contributed to Trump’s current political party over the years. Wynn has given millions to Republicans and their dark money groups, although he claimed he voted for President Barack Obama in 2008 and had given to Democratic candidates and groups in the past.
In 2017, Wynn was named the Republican National Committee’s finance chair. Wynn said that Trump personally asked him to take the job.
Trump is reportedly pleased to have Wynn “working to maintain the record level of organizational strength that helped to produce overwhelming success for the Republican Party last November,” Lindsay Walters, deputy White House press secretary, said at the time, according to Bloomberg. “As a steadfast supporter of Republican candidates, and an incredibly successful businessman, Mr. Wynn has already contributed greatly to improving the lives of Americans, and President Trump knows he will excel in this new role, advancing conservative solutions across the country.”
The sexual assault allegations come in the middle of a reckoning that began with allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, leading to hundreds of women coming forward with their own allegations against dozens of powerful and high-profile men.
Weinstein himself was a major supporter of Democrats. When the allegations against Weinstein first surfaced, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel tweeted, “If the DNC truly stands up for women like they say they do, then returning Weinstein’s dirty money should be a no-brainer.” It remains to be seen whether she — or the rest of her party — will make a similar call for Wynn.