The Massachusetts Gaming Commission says a $2 million donation that Wynn Resorts made to the Republican Governors Association (RGA) in 2014 did not violate gaming or campaign finance laws — even though within 10 days, the RGA then went on to give just over $2 million to support the election of Gov. Charlie Baker.
Three Democratic candidates running against Baker in this year's election wrote the Gaming Commission a letter earlier this month calling for an investigation into the Wynn company’s financial support of Baker.
“Both Wynn Resorts and Gov. Charles D. Baker have a history of concealing financial information from the public and state authorities. There is also strong evidence that Steve Wynn used the RGA to funnel campaign contributions to Baker’s campaign, in direct violation of Massachusetts gaming law,” reads the letter from Democratic candidates Jay Gonzalez, Bob Massie and Setti Warren. “Given these facts, we respectfully ask that the Massachusetts Gaming Commission begin an investigation into Wynn’s financial support of Baker, as part of your thorough look at Wynn Resorts’ suitability to hold a casino license.”
Loretta Lillios of the Gaming Commission’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau testified Thursday at the commission’s meeting that Wynn Resorts won the license for an Everett casino two weeks before the donation.
“So this restriction on political contributions by gaming applicants was no longer in effect with respect to Wynn,” she said.
As a licensee, Wynn is prevented from making donations to candidates. But, Lillios said, the Republican Governors Association is not a candidate. “And also, the RGA is not a political committee subject to Massachusetts law under this statutory scheme,” she added.
Additionally, Commonwealth Future, the political action committee (PAC) supporting Baker, received a lot more money from the RGA.
“The RGA had contributed in excess of $10 million to the Baker PAC during the course of that campaign season, so the Wynn contribution was a relatively small part of that,” said Gaming Commission Chair Steven Crosby. “And it’s perfectly reasonable that they just made a series of contributions and there happened to be a coincidental contribution during that time.”
The commission’s investigation into sexual assault allegations against the casino company’s founder Steve Wynn and a related settlement is ongoing.