The Republican National Committee says that it will hold off on returning donations made by casino magnate Steve Wynn, who resigned Saturday as the RNC finance chair amid allegations of sexual misconduct, until an investigation into the claims provides evidence of wrongdoing.
RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel on Tuesday called the allegations against Wynn “troubling” but argued that they differed from the sexual harassment scandals that brought down Harvey Weinstein and Al Franken—both of whom are Democrats—because Wynn has denied the allegations.
“Steve has denied these allegations, unlike Harvey Weinstein and Al Franken and others, Steve has denied them,” McDaniels said during an appearance on Fox News. “There is an investigation that is going to take place. He should be allowed due process. And if he is found [guilty] of any wrongdoing, we will absolutely return 100 percent of the money. But we’re going to let that process take place.”
The remarks are the RNC’s first response to mounting demands that it return all donations provided by Wynn, since the Wall Street Journal reported Friday on decades of sexual harassment claims against the billionaire casino mogul by women who worked for him. The slow response opened the party to charges of hypocrisy, with critics pointing to its very different response to sexual misconduct controversies involving Democrats.
McDaniel’s rationale—that with his denial, Wynn has sufficiently shielded himself—is similar to the logic applied to President Donald Trump and his own sexual harassment allegations.
“Sen. Franken has admitted wrongdoing and the president hasn’t,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters in November, in the wake of accusations against Franken. She added, “I think that’s a very clear distinction.” As Mother Jones noted then, the White House’s defense appears to leave out Trump’s own admission to having a habit of groping women without their consent.