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Baker is ‘deeply disturbed’ by allegations against Wynn

Keith Bedford/Globe Staff

Governor Charlie Baker.

By Globe Staff 

Governor Charlie Baker has asked the Republican Governors Association to return funds it received in the last three years from Steve Wynn and his firm, Wynn Resorts Limited, following allegations of sexual misconduct against the gambling mogul that surfaced last week.

Baker’s chief political adviser, Jim Conroy, said he delivered the message to the association on Saturday, after the Wall Street Journal reported charges against Wynn that included interviews with dozens of women who worked for him and his Las Vegas-based company.

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“The governor is deeply disturbed by the allegations and believes the RGA should end its relationship with Mr. Wynn,’’ Conroy told the Globe Monday.

Conroy said he conveyed the governor’s request that the association “not to solicit or accept any contributions in the future” from Wynn.

Jon Thompson, a spokesman for association , told the Globe that the organization is in the process of disengaging from Wynn and his company. The association will return recent donations and cancel plans to hold its 2020 convention at the resort’s Las Vegas facilities.

In interviews, the governor has said he found the allegations against Wynn “appalling” and “disgraceful” but was leaving the investigation into the allegations and Wynn’s role in developing one of the state’s first casinos to the Gaming Commission.

“The state statute that the casino is being built under has a suitability standard in it, and the Mass. Gaming Commission is looking into that,” Baker said Monday on WGBH. “We reached out to the Gaming Commission ourselves and told them that we wanted them to look into it, and to move as quickly as they could to render a decision with respect to that.”

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The Republican Governors Association has been a major funding source for Baker’s two campaigns for governor — in 2010, when he lost, and in 2014, when he won one of the closest races in state history. In his successful campaign, the association poured nearly $11 million into a local political action committee that promoted Baker’s candidacy in his victory over the Democratic nominee, Martha Coakley.

Wynn, who at the time of the 2014 campaign was in the process of working out a deal with the state to build a huge casino in Everett, donated heavily to the association.

In October 2014, in Baker’s final stretch to election, Wynn Resorts donated $2 million to the association — its largest ever donation. That same day, the association donated $1.1 million to help Baker’s candidacy. Just a week later, the association donated an additional $1.1 million.

In 2014, when Wynn’s donations became known, the association said it segregates donations from casino operators from its general fund that it uses to finance GOP gubernatorial campaigns.

Thompson said the association will return $100,000 in recent donations from Wynn Resorts but will not return funds from previous election cycles because those funds have already been spent.

The Wynn Resort’s most recent donation to the association — $250,000 — came in December 2016. But in 2015, the association held its annual conference at Wynn’s facilities, spending $225,311. The association also listed another $230,000 expenditure to Wynn Resorts on Nov. 2 for “lodging.”

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Baker’s campaign finance operation also has participated with the Republican National Committee since he has been governor — including all of 2017, during which Wynn served as President Trump’s RNC finance chairman. The Massachusetts Victory Committee, the joint fundraising committee between Baker’s team and the RNC, raised over $2.4 million last year.


Frank Phillips can be reached at frank.phillips@globe.com.