UI Donor Steve Wynn Resigns As GOP Finance Chair Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations [Updated]

Casino mogul Steve Wynn. Photo: User1964/Wikimedia Commons

Update, 1/31: The University of Iowa has announced it will remove Wynn’s name from its vision institute. “The University of Iowa is committed to ending sexual violence and sexual misconduct and ensuring survivors know they are believed, supported, and assisted,” university President Bruce Harreld said in a statement. “It is incongruous with the university’s values to maintain the Wynn name on our program and building.” But the university doesn’t plan to return the $20 million Wynn, who has an eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa that the institute is studying, has already given. “Mr. Wynn’s stated intent when committing the gift was to further the institute’s research to prevent and cure blinding eye disease,” a university spokesperson told the Cedar Rapids Gazette. “We have honored and continue to honor the gift intent.”

Original post: Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn, who in 2013 pledged to give the University of Iowa’s Institute of Vision Research $25 million, on Saturday resigned as finance chairman of the Republican National Committee after the Wall Street Journal reported that he “sexualized his workplace and pressured workers to perform sex acts,” harassing dozens of employees over the course of decades.

Wynn has already given the institute $20 million of his pledge, in addition to $750,000 he donated in 2012, and it was renamed the Stephen A. Wynn Institute of Vision Research.

“As a person who knows firsthand what it is like to lose vision from a rare inherited eye disease, I want to do everything I can to help others who are similarly affected keep the vision they have and eventually get back what they have lost,” Wynn said at the time.

The university has yet to respond to the news, according to the Iowa City Press-Citizen, except for saying that it has not previously changed the name of a donor-named building in the past.

Wynn has denied the allegations of sexual misconduct, telling the Journal, “The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous.”

Donald Trump hand-picked Wynn for the RNC finance chair position. The party has not yet chosen a successor.

Gavin Aronsen
Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.