MONEY IS ALWAYS GOOD IN POLITICS

MONEY IS ALWAYS GOOD IN POLITICS

GOP Welcomes Steve Wynn’s Millions, Despite Rape And Harassment Allegations

MONEY IS ALWAYS GOOD IN POLITICS LEFT OR RIGHT

Steve Wynn speaks to reporters in Massachusetts in 2016, when he still led Wynn Resorts. In 2018, Wynn stepped down from the company after a series of allegations of sexual misconduct, including one allegation of rape. Wynn has denied any wrongdoing.

A major political donor, who just two years ago was forced out of his position as finance chair of the Republican National Committee, has contributed millions of dollars this election cycle to Republican candidates and political action committees aligned with the party.

Steve Wynn’s political contributions were once seen as toxic. A series of investigative reports in The Wall Street Journal in 2018 detailed alleged rape, assault and harassment by the now-disgraced casino mogul. Wynn has denied all of the allegations.

He is now back — or at least his money is. In the past, Republicans demanded Democrats return money from Harvey Weinstein, who was later convicted of rape. In this case, Republicans have continued to accept Wynn’s money.

MONEY IS ALWAYS GOOD IN POLITICS LEFT OR RIGHT

GOP leaders, including Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and super PACs connected with him, have been the primary beneficiaries of Wynn’s contributions. In fact, Wynn has given more than $6 million to 2020 political campaigns, which appears to be the largest amount he has ever individually donated. Among Wynn’s contributions identified by NPR:

SOME BENEFICIARIES

  • $4 million donation to the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC closely allied with McConnell, and led by McConnell’s former chief of staff.
  • $1.5 million in donations to American Crossroads, another McConnell-aligned super PAC. Robert “Mike” Duncan, a longtime Republican Party official and chairman of the Postal Service Board of Governors, is among the super PAC’s board of directors.
  • $25,000 donation to the McConnell Victory Committee, and an additional $5,600 directly to McConnell’s Senate campaign.
  • A $468,500 donation to Trump Victory, a fundraising committee supporting the president’s reelection. Much of that donation was transferred to the Republican National Committee (RNC).
  • Around $200,000 in donations to entities connected with the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC).
  • $5,600 in donations to New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik.

The Trump campaign referred NPR’s inquiries to the RNC, which did not respond. McConnell’s campaign declined to comment. The Senate Leadership Fund, American Crossroads, the NRSC and Stefanik’s campaign did not respond to NPR’s messages. Two attorneys who have represented Wynn also did not return messages seeking comment.

POSSIBLE DARK MONEY INVOLVED

It’s unclear whether Wynn may also be making additional donations to so-called “dark money” groups — political organizations that do not have to disclose their donors to the Federal Election Commission — but he has in the past. Between 2010 and 2012, when he was still the head of Wynn Resorts, the company donated half a million dollars to a conservative organization called Americans For Job Security. That donation was only revealed in 2019 after litigation by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

Wynn joined the ranks of political megadonors after making a fortune in his decades-long career in casinos. Wynn founded and led Wynn Resorts, running businesses in Macau, Las Vegas and Boston.

In 2016, Trump tapped Wynn, a friend and former rival in the casino business, to help lead fundraising efforts for the Republican Party. That year, he individually gave more than $1 million to political candidates and committees, followed by a $729,217 donation to President Trump’s inauguration through his company.

Then, in January 2018, The Wall Street Journal reported that “dozens” of his employees had witnessed a “a decades-long pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Wynn.” Subsequent investigations by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and Nevada Gaming Control Board detailed allegations against Wynn, including a “nonconsensual sexual relationship” with one employee, and complaints that Wynn inappropriately exposed himself to employees during massages.

2005 ACCUSATION OF RAPE THEN SETTLEMENT

The most serious allegation stemmed from 2005. A Wynn employee was called in to Steve Wynn’s office to provide a manicure. The employee said that Wynn then raped her in a massage room connected to his office, according to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

Wynn later testified in a separate civil lawsuit that he believed the encounter with his employee was consensual, though it reflected “bad judgment on my part.” Wynn paid the woman a $7.5 million settlement on the condition that she sign a nondisclosure agreement. The company failed to “conduct any investigation whatsoever” into the rape allegation, the commission found.

Victims “felt that they didn’t have a voice,” the new CEO of Wynn Resorts, Matthew Maddox, told the commission in 2019. “That if they were to speak up they could be retaliated against. Or if they did, it would not be investigated. For that, I am truly sorry.”

Wynn has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct, calling them “preposterous.” He characterized the rape allegation as “extortion.” He has not faced criminal charges. Still, he stepped down as CEO of his company. The head of the Republican Party, Ronna McDaniel, said she “removed” Wynn from his role as finance chair of the Republican National Committee. Some Republicans, including Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and then-House Speaker Paul Ryan, donated contributions they’d received from Wynn to charity.

McDaniel and the RNC, on the other hand, told Fox News that they would keep Wynn’s contributions, saying that Wynn “should be allowed due process.” Still, McDaniel pledged in Jan. 2018 that if investigations of Wynn found “any wrongdoing, we will absolutely return 100% of that money.”

FINGER POINTING GOES BOTH WAYS

Just a few months before that, in October 2017, officials and advisors with Republican PACs criticized Democrats for taking contributions from Harvey Weinstein, the former movie producer who was later convicted of rape. McDaniel called Weinstein’s money “dirty.”

Under pressure from Republicans, top Democrats — such as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Kamala Harris and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — pledged to donate Weinstein’s contributions to charity or committees supporting female candidates for political office.

But now that the shoe is on the other foot, the RNC has taken a different stance. Despite the findings of casino regulators in Nevada and Massachusetts, the RNC, McConnell, and top Republican officials have accepted Steve Wynn’s contributions.


NO FREE CHARLIE BROWN THIS CHRISTMAS

NO FREE CHARLIE BROWN THIS CHRISTMAS

Charlie Brown won’t air on TV for first time in decades as it moves to Apple TV+

Charlie Brown and its holiday specials will not air on television this year because Apple TV+ earned the rights in a new partnership.

This is the first time the beloved “Peanuts” show is being taken off the air since its premiere on CBS in 1996 followed by its run on ABC since 2001.

Viewers will have to watch Charlie Brown on Apple TV+ from now on.

On Monday, the streaming service announced its exclusive rights to the cartoon in a new partnership with WildBrain, Peanuts Worldwide and Lee Mendelson Film Productions.

NO FREE CHARLIE BROWN THIS CHRISTMAS

Charlie Brown shows are moving from television to Apple TV+ (Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)

AppleTV+ is $4.99 a month, although viewers will be able to enjoy the “Peanuts” holiday specials for free on select days, the company revealed.

“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” premiered on the streaming service on Oct. 19 and will be available for free from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1.

“A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” is coming to Apple TV+ on Nov. 18 and will be available for free from Nov. 25 to Nov. 27.

“A Charlie Brown Christmas” will debut on Dec. 4 and will be available for free from Dec. 11 until Dec. 13.

DAWG SAYS: SOME THINGS JUST AINT RIGHT!


CATHOLIC CHURCH ALLOWS SAME SEX MARRIAGE

CATHOLIC CHURCH ALLOWS SAME SEX MARRIAGE

Pope endorses civil union laws for same-sex couples

CATHOLIC CHURCH ALLOWS SAME SEX MARRIAGE

Pope Francis has declared support for civil unions for same-sex couples for the first time, according to the Catholic News Agency.

The Pope made the historic remarks in a new documentary film, “Francesco,” which was released in Rome on Wednesday.

“Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it,” the Pope said in the film, the Catholic News Agency reported.

“What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered,” the Pope said.

Francis has suggested in past interviews that he is not against civil unions, but this is the first time as Pope that he has directly come out in favor of them.

As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis advocated for same-sex civil unions as an alternative when Argentina was discussing whether to legalize same-sex marriage.


PERDUE PHARMA $8 BIL SETTLEMENT

PERDUE PHARMA $8 BIL SETTLEMENT

Purdue Pharma Reaches $8B Opioid Deal With Justice Department Over Oxycontin Sales

Purdue Pharma headquarters stands in downtown Stamford, April 2, 2019 in Stamford, Conn. Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, and its owners, the Sackler family, have faced hundreds of lawsuits for the company’s alleged role in the opioid epidemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans over the past 20 years.

The Justice Department announced on Wednesday a global settlement of civil and criminal investigations into Purdue Pharma’s aggressive marketing of opioid medications, including Oxycontin.

Federal officials have long maintained Purdue’s actions helped fuel a prescription opioid epidemic that has killed more than 232,000 Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But the deal unveiled Wednesday morning, which includes three felony guilty pleas, won’t result in company officials or members of the Sackler family, who own Purdue Pharma, serving prison time. However, Justice Department officials say this deal doesn’t preclude future criminal prosecutions of individuals involved in Purdue Pharma’s opioid marketing practices. They say those separate investigations are ongoing.

During a press conference, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen said the settlement would “redress past wrongs.”

The controversial settlement, valued at more than $8.3 billion, would restructure Purdue Pharma, which entered bankruptcy last year. Going forward, the company would operate as a public trust under government control, continuing to manufacture opioid medications.

The Justice Department also says much of this settlement will help states and communities, providing them with “extraordinary new resources” for treatment of people suffering addiction.

NOT A POPULAR DEAL

In recent days, critics worked to head off this deal even before it was made public, saying it would entangle the government in a risky drug-making operation without holding the company or its owners accountable.

In a letter sent last week to Attorney General William Barr, 25 state attorneys general urged the Justice Department to “avoid having special ties to an opioid company” that “caused a national crisis.”

Nearly three dozen Democratic members of Congress also sent a letter to Barr last week insisting any resolution of Purdue Pharma’s role in the opioid crisis result in prison time for company owners and executives.

“Purdue and the Sackler family perpetrated one of the most egregious criminal acts in American history,” lawmakers argued in the letter, calling for more aggressive prosecutions.

This deal, if finalized by Judge Robert Drain, the federal bankruptcy judge overseeing Purdue Pharma’s dissolution, will almost certainly derail thousands of separate lawsuits against the company filed by local and state governments.

It could also shelter the personal assets of members of the Sackler family from future liability for their role in the opioid crisis.

NEW YORK AG WENT AFTER THEM TOO

New York Attorney General Letitia James sued the Sacklers directly last year.

Her lawsuit claims some family members pocketed billions of dollars in profits over the last two decades, stashing much of it in offshore accounts before the company filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2019.

James responded to the Justice Department’s deal on Wednesday, saying in a written statement that “While our country continues to recover from the pain and destruction left by the Sacklers’ greed, this family has attempted to evade responsibility and lowball the millions of victims of the opioid crisis. Today’s deal doesn’t account for the hundreds of thousands of deaths or millions of addictions caused by Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family.”

She went on to say that the settlement “allows billionaires to keep their billions without any accounting for how much they really made. From the beginning, we’ve aimed to unearth how much the Sacklers actually profited and how much they continue to hide away. While no amount of money can ever compensate the pain that so many now know, we will continue to litigate our case through the courts to secure every cent we can to limit future opioid addictions. We are committed to holding the Sacklers and others responsible for the role they played in fueling the opioid crisis.”

One other controversial provision of this settlement is the Justice Department’s request to Judge Drain that Purdue and the Sacklers be protected from disclosing some internal information to creditors, including state officials.

FIRST REPORTED BY WSJ

First reported by The Wall Street Journal, federal attorneys hope to keep secret disclosures Purdue Pharma made about company activities to the Justice Department while negotiating this settlement.

That maneuver echoes an earlier deal between Purdue Pharma and the Justice Department reached in 2007.

That settlement — widely considered a missed opportunity by the Justice Department — required the company to pay out roughly $645 million in fines because of illegal opioid marketing practices.

But details of those activities were never made public and Purdue Pharma quickly resumed its aggressive sales of Oxycontin and other highly addictive medications.