Republican Governors Association fools media outlets into believing it returned Steve Wynn’s money

Wynn stands accused of serial sexual abuse. Republicans don't seem to mind as long as his money is green.

Steve Wynn, chairman of Wynn Macau, speaks to the press in Hong Kong on September 23, 2009. (MIKE CLARKE/AFP/Getty Images)
Steve Wynn, chairman of Wynn Macau, speaks to the press in Hong Kong on September 23, 2009. (MIKE CLARKE/AFP/Getty Images)

The Republican Governors Association (RGA) is pretending they are returning money from Steve Wynn, the former Republican National Committee Finance chairman who was accused last week of serial sexual assault and harassment. The RGA announcement has generated tweets like this from major media organizations.

But in fact, the RGA is keeping almost all of the money Wynn gave them. Steve Wynn and the corporations he controls have donated “more than $2.5 million to the Republican Governors Association since 2012.” Giving back $100,000 — or about 4 percent of the amount given since 2012 — seems like a public-relations expense more than act of goodwill. In 2015 and 2016, the RGA raised about $100 million, so if they were to return all of Wynn’s recent donations, it would amount to a tiny fraction of it’s total budget.

According to the RGA, they can’t return any money that has “already been spent.”

The bulk of Wynn’s donations changed hands during the 2014 campaign cycle when Wynn was negotiating with the state of Massachusetts to open up a large casino in Boston. In October 2014, Wynn donated $2 million to the RGA — money that was immediately funneled to Charlie Baker, the Republican candidate. Baker later won in an extremely close election and the state later approved Wynn’s plans. The casino is slated to open in 2019.


Baker claimed to be outraged at Wynn’s conduct and called on the RGA to return money donated by Wynn “in the last three years,” which conveniently did not include any money that would have benefited his candidacy.

But the RGA isn’t even going as far as Baker recommends. It is keeping, for example, $250,000 that Wynn donated just over a year ago, in December 2016. The RGA also canceled plans to its convention at the Wynn casino in Las Vegas in 2020.

The RGA has gone just a little bit further than the Trump campaign, the National Republican Senate Committee, the Republican National Committee, and the National Republican Campaign Committee which thus far have not announced any plans to return funds from Wynn. The RNC released a 12-word statement on Saturday that did not address Wynn’s reported serial sexual harassment and assault.