Wynn resigns as RNC finance chairman amid sexual misconduct allegations.
Image Credit: AFP By Sean Sullivan and Robert Costa, WP
WASHINGTON: Casino mogul Steve Wynn stepped down as finance chairman of the Republican National Committee on Saturday, becoming the latest powerful figure to surrender an influential post amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
In a statement, Wynn thanked President Donald Trump, a close ally, for the opportunity to serve.
"Effective today I'm resigning as finance chairman of the RNC," Wynn said. "The unbelievable success we have achieved must continue. The work we are doing to make America a better place is too important to be impaired by this distraction."
In her own statement, RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel said: "Today I accepted Steve Wynn's resignation as Republican National Committee Finance Chair." She did not elaborate on the circumstances of his departure or mention the allegations against him.
Wynn's resignation came a day after a Wall Street Journal report that included interviews with dozens of people who have worked at his casinos or had been informed of his alleged misconduct, including accusations that he pressured some employees to perform sex acts.
Wynn has denied the allegations.
The move triggered new upheaval for the party in power during an election year with control of Congress at stake. It also further underscored the far-reaching impact of the movements across major industries - including politics, sports, media and entertainment - over sexual harassment and misconduct.
"They couldn't tolerate having him in that role, given what the party leadership had said about Democrats and Harvey Weinstein. And it'd be hard to go into the next RNC meeting with this hanging out there," former RNC chairman Michael Steele said.
The RNC is set to hold its winter meeting in Washington in the coming days, where the finance chairman position and fallout from the Wynn allegations are expected to be a topic of conversation.
Trump and McDaniel discussed the Wynn controversy by phone on Saturday, according to two people briefed on the call.
On Friday, the Democratic National Committee criticised the RNC for its initial silence about Wynn, who has given more than $1.5 million (Dh5.5 million) to the RNC and other campaign committees in the past five years. Wynn also contributed to Democrats in 2000 and donated $2,700 to Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.
As RNC members learnt of Wynn's resignation, which was first reported by Politico, they offered mixed opinions of how committee leaders handled the situation.
One RNC member voiced fury over the committee's "silence" since the Journal story was first published, and said McDaniel should have done more to provide information about the developments and Wynn's status.
"We were in the dark for 24 hours. No guidance, no decision, nothing," the RNC member said, requesting anonymity since they were not authorised to speak publicly.
But a second RNC member - a state party chair also not authorised to speak publicly - defended McDaniel and said she was doing her job by waiting until the White House and Trump made a decision before she took her own position. "The White House runs the RNC, not the other way around," the RNC member said.
It was not immediately clear whether Trump or McDaniel asked Wynn to step down.
Wynn's replacement is expected to be someone who has a strong relationship with Trump and deep ties in the financial community. Several friends of former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, who once ran the RNC, mentioned him as a possibility and interim option, although they acknowledged he would be unlikely to do so. Priebus' tenure as Trump's top West Wing aide was tumultuous.
Associates of Anthony Scaramucci, a New York financier who briefly served as White House communications director before he was removed mid-turmoil, did the same, as did allies of other financial and political players, per multiple people involved in discussions ahead of the RNC meeting.
Neither Priebus nor Scaramucci could be reached for comment.
Steele predicted the RNC might install an interim finance chair, but, "it's a big job and they'll need the right person this year."
He added: "You're one of the lead dogs raising money in the party and you have to have street cred in the finance world so you can shake trees."
In a written statement Friday, Wynn strongly denied the allegations in the Journal story, saying they stemmed from an ongoing divorce battle with his ex-wife.
"The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous," Wynn said.
[c] Al Nisr Publishing LLC 2017. All rights reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. ( Syndigate.info ).
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|Publication:||Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)|
|Date:||Jan 28, 2018|
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