Category Archives: Steve Wynn

News From a Fire House Sprinkles on the Republican Finance Committee

April 3, 2017:  Republican Party issues the following announcement

“I am delighted to announce the addition of these longtime friends of the Party and supporters of this administration to our Finance leadership team,” said Chairwoman McDaniel. “Elliott Broidy, Michael Cohen, and Louis DeJoy will serve as National Deputy Finance Chairmen, and Brian Ballard, Bob Grand, Gordon Sondland, Geoff Verhoff, and Ron Weiser will serve as Regional Vice-Chairmen. Together this team will employ their extraordinary talent and understanding of Americans across the country to maintain and build uponF our unprecedented fundraising success.”

January, 2018:  Former casino owner Steve Wynn, steps down from the RNC finance committee as reports of sexual harassment hit the headlines. [Politico] Wynn has since resigned as casino company CEO (March 22, 2018), has settled a six year legal battle with his ex-wife (WSJ), and has asked to be removed as a “qualifier” from the list of key employees required to undergo background checks by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. [BostonH]  However, Wynn’s donations to a Trump super-PAC aren’t going to be returned:

“Wynn gave $500,000 to America First Action Super PAC on Jan. 23, just days before the first reports of his alleged harassment of women were published, according to first-quarter financial data from the Federal Election Commission. CNBC asked the group whether it has any intention of returning the contribution following the stories of Wynn’s alleged misconduct.

“We’re not returning the donation,” a spokeswoman for America First said.” [CNBC]

Thus, the next time a member of the GOP sputters about Democrats accepting money from a potentially dubious source, the appropriate response is, “Steve Wynn.” Chicago Cubs owner, Todd Ricketts, became the new RNC Finance Chair. [CNBC]

April 13, 2018: Another shoe drops — on Elliott Broidy.

“A major donor with close ties to the White House resigned on Friday as deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee after the revelation that he had agreed to pay $1.6 million to a former Playboy model who became pregnant during an affair.” [NYT]

Mr. Broidy comes with a bit of a “past,”

In 2009, Broidy pleaded guilty to committing a felony by giving nearly $1 million in illegal gifts to state officials in order to secure a lucrative deal with New York’s public pension fund for his then-firm Markstone Capital Partners.

Broidy avoided jail time by blowing the whistle on the same people who accepted his bribes. He admitted to ponying up $75,000 for an all-expanses paid luxury trip to Jerusalem, which included first-class tickets, luxury hotel suites, a helicopter tour, and a personal driver for New York State’s comptroller and his family. [TWrap] [WSJ] {Markstone Capital, NYT}

His appeals worked such that Reuters reported in 2012:

Los Angeles money manager Elliott Broidy was spared jail time and a felony conviction on Monday for his role in a “pay to play” scheme at the New York state pension fund.

Justice Lewis Bart Stone reduced Broidy’s felony to a misdemeanor and sentenced him to a conditional discharge.

Mr. Broidy had a busy social calendar entertaining those who sought access to the White House, including the following:

Mr. Broidy offered tickets to V.I.P. inauguration events, including a candlelight dinner attended by Mr. Trump, to a Congolese strongman accused of funding a lavish lifestyle with public resources. He helped arrange a meeting with Republican senators and offered a trip to Mar-a-Lago, the president’s private Florida resort, for an Angolan politician. And he arranged an invitation to a party at Mr. Trump’s Washington hotel for a Romanian parliamentarian facing corruption charges, who posted a photograph with the president on Facebook. [NYT]

The “past became prologue” when he used the services of yet another RNC Finance Committee member to clean up — dare we say “fix” — his issues with the Playmate and her pregnancy. Therefore, the correct response to any Republican who wishes to discuss “family values,” is… “Elliott Broidy.”

April 13, 2018:  Who helped arrange the $1.6 million payout to the Broidy’s ex-mistress? Another RNC Finance Committee member Michael Cohen. [CNN]  Mr. Cohen has drawn the attention of the prosecutors in the SDNY, complete with a highly publicized raid.

“The longtime attorney for President Donald Trump’s real-estate empire, Michael Cohen, went to federal court on Monday in a bid to block federal prosecutors from reading documents and other materials that were seized from Cohen’s home in a sweeping raid. The porn star Stormy Daniels, whom Cohen allegedly paid off to protect Trump, was there to watch. And the hearing was presided over by Judge Kimba Wood, who ordered Cohen to reveal the name of a client he’d tried to keep secret: the Fox News host Sean Hannity.” [Atlantic]

The paragraph above sums up the Trumpian swamp which is looking more like a sink-hole with every passing day.  Thus, the appropriate reply to Republican assertions of “transparency and accountability” is “Michael Cohen.”

Meanwhile, will the last member of the Republican National Finance Committee please turn out the lights and lock the door?

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Filed under campaign finance reform, campaign funds, corruption, Nevada politics, Politics, RNC, Steve Wynn

Wynn Joins the P.I.T.Y Party

Poor Steve Wynn — the Nevada gambling mogul isn’t getting the respect he deserves! To hear him tell it:

“I’ll be damned if I want him (President Obama) to lecture me about small business and jobs,” he told Ralston. “I’m a job creator. Guys like me are job creators and we don’t like having a bull’s-eye put on our backs.”

“I can’t stand the idea of being demagogued, that is being put down, by a president who hasn’t created any jobs and doesn’t even understand how the economy works,” he added.”  [LVSun]

Stephen Colbert had some well chosen words for this attitude, and offered a solution — the formation of the Protecting Industry Titans and Yachtsmen, or the P.I.T.Y. Party.  Evidently, Mr. Wynn is seeking membership.

The moguls like Wynn  certainly are getting touchy these days.   Mr. Wynn is sounding ever so much like hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman, from Freeland’s article, and Colbert’s satire:

Cooperman argued that Obama has needlessly antagonized the rich by making comments that are hostile to economic success. The prose, rife with compound metaphors and righteous indignation, is a good reflection of Cooperman’s table talk. “The divisive, polarizing tone of your rhetoric is cleaving a widening gulf, at this point as much visceral as philosophical, between the downtrodden and those best positioned to help them,” Cooperman wrote. “It is a gulf that is at once counterproductive and freighted with dangerous historical precedents.”  [New Yorker]

Excuse me for a moment — as a member of the 53% who did pay federal income tax in 2011, but whose vehicles must do without their own elevators, I have to ask: When did getting your itty-bitty feelings hurt preclude you from making sound business decisions in your own interest?

First, what happened in the recent recovery which might have exacerbated the sense that the 0.1% were raking in far more than might be expected for any small element in the overall economy?

Chrystia Freeland captured the trends in two paragraphs back in 2011:

“Before the recession, it was relatively easy to ignore this concentration of wealth among an elite few. The wondrous inventions of the modern economy—Google, Amazon, the iPhone—broadly improved the lives of middle-class consumers, even as they made a tiny subset of entrepreneurs hugely wealthy. And the less-wondrous inventions—particularly the explosion of subprime credit—helped mask the rise of income inequality for many of those whose earnings were stagnant.

But the financial crisis and its long, dismal aftermath have changed all that. A multibillion-dollar bailout and Wall Street’s swift, subsequent reinstatement of gargantuan bonuses have inspired a narrative of parasitic bankers and other elites rigging the game for their own benefit. And this, in turn, has led to wider—and not unreasonable—fears that we are living in not merely a plutonomy, but a plutocracy, in which the rich display outsize political influence, narrowly self-interested motives, and a casual indifference to anyone outside their own rarefied economic bubble.”  [Atlantic]

BUT, don’t mention any of this or they’ll get their feelings hurt?

Note that both Cooperman and Wynn perceive themselves as members of the focus group formulated Job Creators category.  If one remains hermetically sealed in one’s “rarefied economic bubble,” then this might be understandable.

Thus within the confined realm of their “narrowly self-interested motives,” excluding the needs of any around them, Wynn and Cooperman are free to indulge in the level of self pity necessary to excuse their opposition to paying a mite more in taxes to support the interests of any others. Or, that other 99%.

Secondly, “it’s all about me,” isn’t necessarily a good philosophical foundation for business practices.  Note the arrogance of Wynn’s articulation, “Guys like me are job creators and we don’t like having a bull’s-eye put on our backs.”    Mr. Wynn should know better.  What happened to his business in the wake of the Housing Bubble collapse?

Visitor volume, reported as 54,267,549 for Nevada in 2008 dropped to 49,731,901 in 2009.  It dropped to 49,684,782 in 2010 as the Recession deepened.  [NVRA]  Airport travel, convention attendance, visitor volume, all those statistics Nevadans watch carefully were down.  People de-leveraging from household debt, and especially those who lost jobs, don’t answer Nevada’s siren songs.  Those people are included in a group commonly called CUSTOMERS.

If too many customers are too financially strapped to play with our fancy lights and whistles money grabbing machines or to play at our flashy green tables then Mr. Wynn’s operations decline — back to the bad old days of the Bingo Parlor in Maryland?

Who doesn’t understand how the economy works?

If those who consider themselves the Elite excavate their own custom designed bunkers in which only their economic needs really count, and bombard the political system with their avaricious ideology, then it won’t be too long until the customers they require to sustain their operations evaporate.

Income inequality trends were in place prior to the Recession, as illustrated by this graphic from the Congressional Budget Office:

Income increased by 275% for those in the highest quintile, by 65% for the next highest group, by just under 40% for the next 60% of the income earners, and 18% for those in the bottom quintile. [CBO]


Notice that since 1982 the percentage of wealth accumulating to the top 1% of American income earners has increased, and increased rather dramatically since 2002.

Now it’s time to ask the obvious question:  If wealth accumulation trends continue, and it appears that they have during the recovery period —

“In 2010, average real income per family grew by 2.3% (Table 1) but the gains were very uneven. Top 1% incomes grew by 11.6% while bottom 99% incomes grew only by 0.2%. Hence, the top 1% captured 93% of the income gains in the first year of recovery. Such an uneven recovery can help explain the recent public demonstrations against inequality. It is likely that this uneven recovery has continued in 2011 as the stock market has continued to recover. National Accounts statistics show that corporate profits and dividends distributed have grown strongly in 2011 while wage and salary accruals have only grown only modestly.”  [Saez pdf] (emphasis added)

— then how do the ultra-rich intend to keep their businesses profitable?  Especially in Mr. Wynn’s case, the casinos being essentially entertainment retailing?

One of the time honored ways to determine if a business is in trouble is to see if it is gaining a larger share in a declining market.   Obviously, if a declining number of people have the financial capacity to spend their discretionary income on entertainment, then this doesn’t bode well for entertainment establishments.   Pursuing economic and taxation policies which precipitate further contraction in wealth accumulation among a majority of the population isn’t conducive to creating an expanding market for anyone’s products.  The President appears to have grasp this point, Mr. Wynn and Mr. Adelson perhaps not so much.

Job Creators

Moguls do not create jobs.  Moguls, and other businesses owners, hire people.   If they have a lick of sense they do not hire anyone they don’t need.  Another time honored rule of personnel management says:  If you don’t need Cousin Harry don’t hire him.  Nothing will drive any business into the ground faster than an inflated payroll — especially when it threatens to morph into the  family tree.

For the umpteenth millionth time — staffing levels should only be increased when the current employees cannot make or provide the goods and services demanded by the customers, with an acceptable level of customer service.

Demand is what creates jobs.  For all the self-congratulatory posturing of the economic elite, if no one is buying the vehicles, purchasing the furniture, or spending a night with the slot machines — there will be less demand and with less demand comes the natural restrictions on hiring.  The old Supply Side Hoax was never more than an artificial justification for greed.  It certainly isn’t the way to keep an economy growing.  The President understands this, some of the touchy moguls not so much.

Perhaps someone would like to procure one of Mr. Colbert’s Million Dollar Certificates, suitable for framing, telling Mr. Wynn that at least one person likes him?

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Filed under Adelson, campaign funds, Economy, income inequality, income tax, Obama, Republicans, Steve Wynn, Taxation

>Coffee and the Papers: No help for Nevada from the Federal Highway Trust Fund

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Nevada sits with a $3.8 billion deficit in its highway funding, and if we thought help might be coming from the other 49 states we are going to have to think again. The federal gasoline tax hasn’t been increased in 14 years and in 2009 the Federal Highway Trust fund will start falling short of planned federal spending. [LVRJ]

Business 2.0 says Las Vegas should experience a 6.5% growth rate based on commercial construction and hospitality (gambling…) [LVRJ] Good news? We’re growing — bad news we’re growing and the infrastructure isn’t keeping pace?

When 24% of the counterfeit conservative voting base says “Keep looking for another candidate” — maybe it’s time to start looking for another candidate? [LVRJ] There goes the old saw: Democrats want to fall in love; Republicans want to fall in line? The California GOP has found a challenger for freshman Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-CA) who defeated Richard Pombo in 2006. [Hill] Florida Governor Crist has signed the bill to move the Florida Primary to January 29. [MH]

Dealers opposed to Wynn’s tip sharing scheme used the Internet(s) to organize their opposition — leaving all those union busting consultants charging hefty fees to keep American corporations “union free” to devise new ways to “exert control over employee communications?” Watch for more company-sponsored sites, e-mail controls, and other “controlled” (you get to say what management wants you to say) and “accountable” (your name’s on it so they can retaliate later?) company communications.? [LVSun] Gee whiz, Steve Wynn’s sounding like the latest crop of whining pundits — all exercised that anonymous folk could say blasphemous things about him and his schemes… and the GOP is dithering that their party’s stuck in the circa 2000 Internet. When the ABC-PAC (conservative) raises $385.00 and John Edwards alone has racked up $3 million on Act Blue’s site — yes, the GOP very likely has a problem: Too much top down-marching orders-fall in line organizing? [WaPo]

The Nevada Legislature’s Gift Shop may open its Olde Wyne Shoppe? While — “what was that stuff in the glasses on the cruise ship?” — Dawn Gibbons plays at being ‘Lemonade Lucy’ Hayes at the Governor’s house? [LVSun] The governor’s spokesman says that Gov. Gibbons will have no problem signing the bill — just as soon as he unties the dinner napkin from his head and stops making “Rrrrrr” sounds?

Public school administrators voiced their concerns about the impact of the No Child Left Behind Act and the associated state legislation that is hampering local districts’ attempts to provide specialized instruction and curricula that reflects community needs. [RGJ] Not to put too fine a point to it, but when bean counters are put in charge of education, not surprisingly, we get beans.

Another one bites the dust. Hard on the heels of the Chrysler buyout by a private equity firm, Alltel Corporation has agreed to be bought by TPG Capital and Goldman Sachs for $25 billion. [Reuters] And, the “dollar buying ever less of world’s goods: the dollar has fallen 5% against the euro and the pound so far this year – the equivalent of a 20% annual decline” [CSM] Should make the trade deficit numbers look better?

The Army Times compares the Congressional pay package for troops with the White House proposal. Congress wins. The White House response: “Providing bigger pay raises for everyone is considered by defense personnel and budget officials as unnecessary and wasteful when there are other military priorities that are not funded or not fully funded.” So, we pay the fat contracts first and if we have anything left over — then we pay the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines?

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Filed under Economy, Las Vegas, Military pay, Nevada highways, Nevada legislature, Steve Wynn, Union busting