The Justice Department sued former longtime casino tycoon Steve Wynn on Tuesday to compel him to file as a foreign agent for allegedly lobbying former President Donald Trump on behalf of China in 2017, when he was Trump's hand-picked Republican National Committee finance chairman. The Justice Department asked Wynn to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) in 2018, 2021, and April, and took action now because he repeatedly refused to do so.
"Obviously, I disagreed with the Justice Department, which is why I have not registered," Wynn texted The New York Times, referring all further comment to his lawyers. His lawyers, Reid Weingarten and Brian Heberlig, said in a statement that Wynn "never acted as an agent of the Chinese government" and they "look forward to proving our case in court."
The Justice Department lawsuit alleges that Wynn, on behalf of China's head of public security Sun Lijun and other Chinese officials, spent several months personally trying to persuade Trump and members of his administration to expel from the U.S. an unidentified Chinese national, believed to be billionaire tycoon Guo Wengui. Trump enthusiastically agreed to kick Guo out of the U.S., The Wall Street Journal reported in 2017, until his aides reminded him, among other things, that Guo was a member or his Mar-a-Lago club.
Wynn was brought into the scheme by another former RNC finance chairman and top Trump fundraiser, Elliott Broidy, the Justice Department alleges, and he agreed to benefit his three casinos in Macau, key to his casino empire. Broidy pleaded guilty in 2020 to illicitly lobbying Trump's administration, though Trump pardoned him at the end of his presidency. Bloomberg Opinion columnist Jonathan Bernstein sees a pattern.
"Where a foreign government uses an American as its agent to influence policy decisions in the United States, FARA gives the American people a right to know," Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen said in a statement Tuesday.
Wynn resigned from the RNC and from his namesake Wynn Resorts company in 2018 after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct, then he sold his stake in the company and moved to Florida. "It's unclear what penalties Wynn, 80, could face," The Nevada Independent reports. "The Justice Department wants the court to order Wynn to submit 'a true and complete registration statement' and 'other and further relief as the court may deem just and proper.'"