Las Vegas locals? Not so much.
Everyone has heard Steve Wynn stories. He was sued years ago and paid out millions. Word circulated that ex-wife Elaine was taking him down over their nasty legal battle over selling Wynn shares. That hardly makes sense.
Wynn was described rightfully by the WSJ as “a towering figure in Las Vegas and the wider gambling industry.” He rolled the dice using Michael Milken junk bond financing to build the Mirage. It was said the property had to do a million dollars a day just to pay debt service and he’d never make it.
He did and then some: the Treasure Island, Bellagio, Wynn and Encore casinos followed. He has exported his vision of “lavish, multiuse resorts with features such as artificial volcanoes, dancing fountains and French chefs” to Macau and beyond.
As boorish as Wynn’s behavior reportedly was, the authors of the WSJ article admit, “The Journal contacted more than 150 people who work or had worked for Mr. Wynn; none reached out to the Journal on their own.”
So, this information, public and private, has been around for years, why has it taken a man who rebuilt the face of Las Vegas out of the business, now? What changed? The revelations about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein? The #metoo movement? A scorned ex-wife?
Ex-wife Elaine Wynn, as an ex-board member and owner of 9 percent of the company’s shares, had too much to lose to instigate this ambush.
What’s different is Steve Wynn took on a new job after Donald Trump was elected. In January of 2017, Wynn was named finance chairman of the Republican National Committee to help lead the the GOP’s fundraising for the 2018 midterm elections.
Wynn said at the time, “I look forward to helping President Trump and his Administration make America greater again for the people who work hard every day.”
It turned out he provided too much help. McClatchey reported last October, “The Republican National Committee raised more than $100 million in the first nine months of 2017, marking the first time it has raised that much, that fast, in a nonpresidential election year.”
Wynn was quoted as saying, “The size of the financial support is historically remarkable but we must recognize why it is remarkable.” Through last August, Anita Kumar wrote, “Republicans had raised almost twice as much as the Democrats and had nearly seven times as much money in the bank. The RNC had raised $93.3 million with $47.1 million cash on hand while the DNC raised $46.3 million and had $6.8 million cash on hand.”
The money was rushing into RNC coffers and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had to put a stop to it. He knew who to call. Wynn Las Vegas is a Culinary Union property and a certain retired senator might have been of use as well. The Wall Street Journal reporters would get all the help they needed.
Wynn was once a supporter of Democrats, and in fact, donated, according to Business Insider, $31,000 to Harry Reid’s campaigns as well as sending money to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, and once had supported Barbara Boxer, Joe Biden and John Kerry.
The day the story broke, the first position Wynn walked away from was his RNC finance chair position. Ten days later he resigned from the helm of the company operating under his name. Six weeks later he had liquidated all of his Wynn shares.
Las Vegas is known as tough town with ruthless competitors and conniving con men everywhere. But Sin City is Lake Wobegon compared to Washington D.C. where it’s famously said, “If you want a friend, buy a dog.”
Steve Wynn’s vision made Las Vegas a boom town. Sadly, at age 76, Democrats lowered the boom on him. It’s not hard to imagine Harry telling Steve, “quit whining about losing everything. It’s just politics. We’re still friends.” . LW