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Massachusetts gubernatorial candidates call for expanded Gaming Commission probe

13 Feb 2018

(PRESS RELEASE) -- In a letter to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission today, all three Massachusetts gubernatorial candidates called for the Gaming Commission to investigate Steve Wynn and Wynn Resorts' financial support of Charlie Baker in his 2014 gubernatorial election, as part of their ongoing review of Wynn Resorts' suitability to hold a casino license.

"Steve Wynn's resignation as chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts does not lessen the need for the Commission's investigation into the company. The need for a thorough investigation is even greater today. Wynn retains his 12% ownership stake in the company, and the same staff and officers who may have abetted this ongoing coverup remain in charge," reads the letter, signed by Democratic gubernatorial candidates Jay Gonzalez, Bob Massie and Setti Warren.

"Given the undeniable evidence that Wynn Resorts successfully concealed information from the MGC in the past, we respectfully request that the Commission fully investigate another likely violation of Massachusetts gaming laws by Wynn Resorts and Steve Wynn: their $2 million campaign contribution to then-gubernatorial-candidate Charles D. Baker, which Wynn funneled through the Republican Governors Association (RGA)."

This past December, the Wall Street Journal reported that in summer 2014, top RGA staff discussed "helping Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker using money committed by casino magnate Steve Wynn, according to a person in the room at the time." In October 2014, when Wynn Resorts was an applicant for a gaming license, the company gave $2 million to the Republican Governors Association (RGA), its largest-ever donation to the group. The same day, the RGA made a $1.1 million donation to support Baker. Eight days later, it gave $1.1 million more.

When asked by the Journal about Wynn Resorts' $2 million donation, Phil Cox, who was executive director of the RGA at the time, said of Steve Wynn that he was "sure his interest in the casino was a factor" in the donation to the RGA.

The Massachusetts gaming law states that "No applicant for a gaming license. . . shall directly or indirectly, pay or contribute any money or thing of value to. . . any candidate for nomination or election to any public office in the commonwealth, including a municipal office; or any group, political party, committee or association organized in support of any such candidate or political party."

The letter also notes that "Governor Charles D. Baker and his political team have a history of concealing the source of political donations to his campaigns. In 2017, the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) found two different political groups aligned with Baker guilty of illegally and intentionally concealing the true source of donations meant to influence two ballot questions in the 2016 election."

"Both Wynn Resorts and Governor 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. "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."
 
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