It's hard to distance yourself from a sexual predator when the leader of your party bragged about being one.
More than two weeks after disgraced former Republican National Committee finance chair Steve Wynn was forced to resign amid allegations of sexual abuse, the GOP still hasn’t returned any of the donations it received from him.
And based on its latest public statement, the party seems more interested in making excuses than making amends.
According to a new report by CNN, the RNC said on Sunday it is keeping all donations from Wynn until gaming regulators in Massachusetts and Nevada complete their investigations into allegations of sexual assault and harassment made against him. This comes after the Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend that the board of directors of Wynn Resorts had canceled its investigation into the allegations, saying it was no longer needed since he had resigned as the company’s chairman and chief executive.
In late January, RNC chair Ronna Romney McDaniel said that although she had accepted Wynn’s resignation, the GOP wouldn’t return Wynn’s money unless he was “found guilty.” At the time, the only investigation underway was the internal probe by Wynn Resorts’ board of directors, and an RNC official told the Daily Beast that McDaniel was specifically referring to that investigation.
But now that the internal probe has ended with Wynn’s resignation from the company, the RNC is once again moving the goalposts and highlighting the jaw-dropping hypocrisy of the party’s stance on all matters related to sexual misconduct.
The GOP’s reluctance to return donations from Wynn is a sharp departure from the position it took when allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein surfaced last year. At the time, Republicans had a field day demanding that Democrats return every penny that Weinstein had donated to their campaigns.
If the DNC truly stands up for women like they say they do, then returning Weinstein’s dirty money should be a no-brainer.
Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) October 6, 2017
Even the GOP’s official Twitter account chimed in, asking people to share a tweet telling the Democratic National Committee they should return donations from Weinstein.
But four months later, the RNC is singing a very different tune now that one of its own is facing allegations.
RNC spokesman says Wynn stepping down as CEO doesn’t change party’s decision not to return his donations unless a board investigation finds him guilty of wrongdoing. Wynn gave $375K to RNC late last year. https://t.co/79gwvtSKvc
— Rebecca Ballhaus (@rebeccaballhaus) February 7, 2018
Wynn, who stands accused of sexual assault and harassment by multiple women who worked for him, was tapped to become the RNC’s finance chair after Trump’s inauguration. In his role with the RNC, Wynn was tasked with leading the Republican Party’s fundraising efforts until his resignation last month. He was also a prominent donor to Republican candidates and causes.
According to the Daily Beast, “Wynn has donated more than $2 million to Republican campaigns, party organs, and interest groups since 2001. That includes more than $1.3 million to the Republican National Committee (compared with the $300,0000 in donations that Weinstein gave to the DNC) and the partys House and Senate campaign arms.”
Besides his position as an RNC official, Wynn has close personal ties to Trump, calling him a “great friend” in 2016. Since Trump took office, Wynn has privately dined with him at the White House at least five times.
He also served as the vice chairman of Trump’s inaugural committee after the election, and just last month he co-hosted and spoke at an RNC fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago, Trumps Florida vacation resort. According to Wynn, attendees at the event paid anywhere from $100,000 per couple to $250,000 for a roundtable. All proceeds from the fundraiser went to the Trump Victory Fund.
Trump hasn’t given any indication that he plans to return those funds. In fact, Trump’s only public comment on Wynn so far was to “like” a tweet about the sexual abuse allegations against him.
As MSNBC’s Joy Reid pointed out when the allegations against Wynn were first revealed, the scandal puts Republicans in an incredibly awkward position. If Republicans refuse to distance themselves from Wynn, they must explain why they are standing by someone facing credible allegations of sexual abuse from multiple women.
On the other hand, if Republicans denounce Wynn and return his donations because of these allegations, they must justify standing by Trump despite credible allegations of sexual misconduct against him from at least 19 different women.
At the end of the day, it’s hard to distance yourself from a sexual predator when the leader of your party bragged about being one.