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Gaming commission says Wynn campaign donation was legal

FILE - This March 15, 2016, file photo, shows casino mogul Steve Wynn at a news conference in Medford, Mass. The University of Pennsylvania has announced plans to distance itself from casino mogul Wynn and comedian Bill Cosby in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against both men. The college on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, said it will revoke Wynn’s honorary degree and remove his name from both an outdoor plaza and a scholarship fund. The school will also rescind Cosby’s honorary degree. The school says it has been a century since it took away an honorary degree but that “credible” allegations against the men warranted the action. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)
Charles Krupa/Associated Press/file 2016
Steve Wynn.

Investigators for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission have concluded that Wynn Resorts did not break any laws in 2014 when it donated $2 million to a national Republican group supporting Charlie Baker in that year’s governor’s race.

The company’s October donation to the Republican Governors Association came only days before that group sank $2.2 million into a political action committee supporting Baker. State Democrats have maintained that the donation was effectively “funneled” to Baker in violation of state law barring casino license applicants from donating to political candidates.

But Loretta M. Lillios, chief enforcement counsel to the commission, said Thursday that her office examined the contribution at the time and was “satisfied that there was no contravention of Massachusetts law and no lack of compliance” by Wynn Resorts.

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Lillios said investigators recently reviewed their initial findings in light of ongoing complaints by Democratic candidates that the donation was improper.

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The donations came after the commission voted to allow Wynn to operate a casino, but before a statewide referendum cleared the way for casino gambling in Massachusetts. In that context, Wynn was not bound by laws governing applicants, Lillios said.

The donation would also have been exempt from laws covering donations from licensees because the RGA is not a political committee under state law.

However, the state Democratic party has continued to dispute the findings, arguing that Wynn Resorts’ license was not finalized until after the 2014 referendum — which would mean the company was still an applicant when it made the donation.

“It is clear that the commission is unwilling or unable to conduct a thorough and unbiased review of all the facts regarding Steve Wynn’s gaming license,” the party said in a statement. “They are obviously ducking their obligation to investigate an illegal contribution to the governor’s campaign.”

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At a Gaming Commission meeting, Lillios said the RGA, which helps elect Republican governors across the country, had told state investigators that the Wynn donation was not used to pay for political contributions.

She also said the group had given more than $10 million to the pro-Baker political action committee during the 2014 election year, much of it before the Wynn Resorts donation.

Steve Wynn resigned as CEO of Wynn Resorts earlier this month amid allegations of sexual misconduct. After the allegations became public, Baker asked the Republican Governors Association to return funds it received in the last three years from Steve Wynn and Wynn Resorts.

The Gaming Commission has launched an investigation into the allegations to determine whether the company remains a suitable operator for a casino in Everett, even as construction on the $2.4 billion facility continues.

Commission members said the investigation is moving as quickly as possible. In a statement, Wynn Resorts said it is cooperating with investigators.

Andy Rosen can be reached at andrew.rosen@globe.com.