Did White House officials ask the Department of Justice to intervene on behalf of Steve Wynn to alter Department of Labor regulations in 2017?
According to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the group American Oversight, the White House asked for a meeting with acting Solicitor General Jeff Wall to discuss litigation between Wynn Resorts and hundreds of Wynn Las Vegas dealers, who were involved in a battle over tip-pooling.
The nature of the ensuing discussion — or whether it even took place — is unknown, but the Department of Ethics office subsequently cleared Wall to “work on the Wynn case,” according to the documents, as well as with the National Restaurants Association (NRA) which was engaged in similar litigation over the control of employee tips.
Three months later, laws were changed in a way that favored the NRA and Wynn, who at the time was finance chairman of the Republican National Committee and had previously made a $729,000 donation to President Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony.
Wynn Resorts spat with its dealers began in 2006, when Wynn personally introduced a policy that forced them to share 15 percent of their tips with pit bosses and supervisors. The decision forced employees to unionize and fight back.
The dealers, who were suing for $50 million, were dealt a powerful hand by a 2011 decision by the Obama administration that revised Labor Department rules to prohibit tip-pooling, which was essentially rescinded by the Trump administration.
At the time, Wynn Resorts had petitioned the high court to reverse a judgment in favor of the dealers.
Stephen Gillers, an expert in legal ethics and a professor at the New York University School of Law, told The Daily Beast that a DoJ lawyer who is approached by the White House regarding pending litigation has to refuse to discuss the matter.
“Once there is an actual case being litigated, the norm has been that the White House stays out of it,” he said. “That’s the norm. For the legal ethics point of view, the lawyers handling that case cannot allow the White House to influence their independent professional judgement on behalf of the United States.”
MGC Report Complete But Still Gagged
In January 2018, Wynn resigned from his position within the RNC shortly after a Wall Street Journal story broke that accused him of engaging in a decades-long pattern of sexual misconduct with female employees.
He also later resigned from Wynn Resorts and sold his stock in a bid to protect the company’s licensing after the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) launched an investigation into the company’s suitability to operate the Encore Boston Harbor, currently under construction in Everett, Massachusetts.
On Thursday MGC officials announced they had completed their investigation but would not announce their verdict publicly. The MGC has been gagged by a lawsuit from Wynn that claims documents turned over to the investigation by Wynn Resorts breach Wynn’s attorney-client privilege.
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