Another sad, unfortunate chapter in the saga of Steve Wynn By Ken Adams, CDC Gaming Reports May 31, 2021 at 3:46 pm Steve Wynn once seemed to be charmed as a casino operator and as a man; whatever he touched succeeded. That charm lasted from the 1970s until January 2018, when the Wall Street Journal published an article alleging sexual misconduct toward “numerous women and former employees” by Wynn. The timing for him was bad; it was the height of the Me Too movement. Big names in politics, business, entertainment, and sports came tumbling down day after day. Some, like Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein, went to prison; others like Steve Wynn were forced out of their careers. Wynn denied the allegations, but within a month, he resigned from Wynn Resorts and sold his stock. He also resigned his fundraising position with the Republican National Committee. Since 2018, Wynn has attracted attention only when he’s been in court, selling a house, or donating money to an alma mater. But last week, he caught another unlucky wave — this time for “political interference.” Since the 2016 presidential election, foreign intervention in American elections has been a hot topic. Democrats and other liberals accused the Russians of interfering in the election. The allegations generally include “false news” spread through Facebook and other social-media platforms. The accusation against Wynn, however, concerns China, not Russia, and is not another case of false news. (In 2016, China was mentioned in passing, but no one in his or her right mind would have claimed that President Xi wanted Trump to win the presidency.) The new allegation is not about interfering with an election, but using personal influence for the political purposes of a foreign nation. The Department of Justice claims Wynn was acting as an agent for China and using his connections to influence U.S. government policy. The Foreign Agents Registration Act was passed in 1938, probably to make left-leaning Americans register as agents of the Communist Party and Russia. Mainly, it concerned itself with the spread communist propaganda. In 1966, it was revised and now, an organization (or person) could not be placed in the FARA database unless the government proved that it (or he or she) was acting “at the order, request, or under the direction or control of a foreign principal” and that it (or he or she) was engaged “in political activities for or in the interests of such foreign principal,” including by “represent[ing] the interests of such foreign principal before any agency or official of the Government of the United States.” In 1995, the term “political propaganda” was removed. The revised Act was harder to administer and, indeed, its raison d’etre no longer existed. But in the 21st century, it has gained a new life; Islamic extremists, meddling Russians, dubious Chinese, and others were suspected of being at work trying to undermine our government and warp our minds. In 2017, Steve Wynn stepped onto the DOJ’s radar when it was alleged that he carried a private letter to President Trump. The Justice Department is investigating Wynn’s activities. It wants him to register as a foreign agent—in other words, a lobbyist for a foreign nation, China. It is not difficult to see how Wynn might have been asked by China to deliver a message. It is also not difficult to see how the Justice Department thought Wynn could be a pawn in the game. China wanted the United States to send Guo Wengui back to China. Guo is a Chinese businessman whom China has accused, several times, of corruption and other misdeeds. China wants to prosecute him. The U.S. has not been willing to comply. Steve Wynn could be seen as the perfect ambassador for China. Wynn is a staunch Republican, a donor to Trump’s campaign, a party fundraiser and Trump advisor — in short, a Republican and Trump insider. In China, Wynn Resorts has several casinos worth billions of dollars; the license for those casinos comes up for renewal next year. According to Fox News, in the infamous letter, China was promising to help the U.S. with North Korea and other issues in exchange for extraditing Mr. Guo. One can imagine that China might have promised Wynn a guaranteed license if his efforts were successful. Isn’t that the way we have been taught international diplomacy works? Two of Wynn’s former associates have admitted to being part of discussions about Guo’s fate. One claimed to have heard Wynn place a call to Trump inquiring into Guo’s status, though not ask to have him sent to China. That is all circumstantial — no evidence, just vague possibilities. No one would dispute the claim that America could use Chinese help with North Korea; nor would anyone deny that China really wants to lay its hands on Mr. Guo. Equally, it is quite certain that Wynn Resorts wants its casino license in Macau renewed. Mr. Guo himself seems to believe the allegations about Wynn. He has been quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying, “I am glad to hear the DOJ is investigating Steve Wynn and frankly believe they should criminally indict him for serving as a greedy spy of the Chinese Communist Party.” Guo sounds bitter, but who wouldn’t be when the largest country in the world wants your head? Arguably, Steve Wynn had a more significant impact on the gaming industry than any other individual. Las Vegas is still building around his visions, models, and concepts. He had a unique vision and genius. His genius changed Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and Macau. However, Wynn’s reputation will now forever be tainted by allegations not only of sexual misconduct, but also inappropriate diplomacy. For Wynn, it is one more sad chapter to what had been a stellar career.