Steve Wynn has resigned from his position as finance chairman for the Republican National Committee amid controversy over sexual misconduct allegations.
RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said she accepted Wynn’s departure on Saturday.
“Today I accepted Steve Wynn’s resignation as Republican National Committee Finance Chair,” she said in a statement.
Wynn is facing allegations of sexual misconduct following a story in The Wall Street Journal that published on Friday. He denies the allegations, calling them “preposterous.” Politico was first to report Wynn plans to step down on Saturday.
RNC committee members were told about his resignation Saturday, and a White House official said President Donald Trump was apprised of Wynn’s decision to resign.
The president handpicked Wynn for the position, a sign of their rivalry-turned-friendship, but he supported Wynn’s decision to step down, the official said, in hopes of minimizing any political damage.
The heat was turned up on Republicans to return donations from the Las Vegas mogul, as the nation continues to face a reckoning over sexual harassment and the RNC backed controversial Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore in the state’s special election.
However, Wynn has denied any wrongdoing.
“The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous,” he said in a statement that the company previously sent to CNN. “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.”
Just this election cycle, Wynn has given $100,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee. He has also contributed thousands of dollars to the campaigns of Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, retiring Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona (who was running for re-election at the time of Wynn’s donations), and special election victors Reps. Greg Gianforte of Montana and Karen Handel of Georgia.
The board of directors of Wynn Resorts has formed a special committee to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct made against Wynn, the company’s founder and CEO.
In a statement released late Friday, the board said the special committee, “comprised solely of independent directors,” would begin probing the allegations made in a Wall Street Journal article. The investigative committee will be chaired by Patricia Mulroy, a member of the board’s corporate governance and compliance committees, it said.
“The Board is deeply committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all of the Company’s employees and to operating with the highest ethical standards,” the statement read.
The Journal said it had spoken to more than 150 current and former employees as part of its reporting.
The newspaper detailed allegations from a married manicurist who received a $7.5 million settlement from the billionaire casino owner after she complained in 2005 that she had been ordered by Wynn to have sex, even though she told him she was married and did not want to have sex. The story said her supervisor told the paper that after the incident she filed a detailed report to the casino’s human-resources department recounting the episode.
According to the Journal’s story, the broad terms of the incident and payment were referenced in a heavily redacted lawsuit that was filed by Wynn’s ex-wife, Elaine Wynn, in 2012. She is seeking to lift restrictions on her sale of Wynn Resort shares. According to the paper, a Wynn corporate attorney said in a court hearing that there were “allegations of assault.” But the paper said details of the incident with the manicurist and the amount of the settlement had not previously been reported.
The company said it is “committed to operating with the highest ethical standards and maintaining a safe and respectful culture.” It said it has a hotline any employee can use anonymously to make a complaint about sexual harassment or misconduct. “Since the inception of the company, not one complaint was made to that hotline regarding Mr. Wynn,” said the statement.
Wynn Resorts alleges that the Journal story is a result of an effort by Elaine Wynn to “tarnish the reputation of Mr. Wynn in an attempt to pressure a revised divorce settlement from him.” Steve Wynn echoed that claim in the statement he provided to CNN.
The Journal story quoted Elaine Wynn’s attorney as saying the claim that she instigated the Journal’s article “is just not true.”
The story also says that a massage therapist reported that Wynn regularly demanded that she “massage” his penis to climax during each session. She said that when he later demanded she perform oral sex on him, she refused, and when she told him she was uncomfortable with his requests, he stopped asking for massages from her.
Wynn is the first CEO and founder of a major publicly-traded company to face such charges, although a growing number of men in business in have been accused of sexual misconduct in the last year.