Judge ends lobbying suit against casino developer Steve Wynn

Oct 12, 2022, 9:29 AM | Updated: 2:08 pm
FILE - This March 15, 2016, file photo, shows casino mogul Steve Wynn at a news conference in Medfo...

FILE - This March 15, 2016, file photo, shows casino mogul Steve Wynn at a news conference in Medford, Mass. A federal judge on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022, dismissed a Justice Department lawsuit that sought to force longtime casino developer Steve Wynn to register as a foreign agent because of lobbying work it said he conducted at the behest of the Chinese government during the Trump administration. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a Justice Department lawsuit that sought to force longtime casino developer Steve Wynn to register as a foreign agent because of lobbying work it said he conducted at the behest of the Chinese government during the Trump administration.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg did not address in his 20-page order whether Wynn was functioning as a Beijing agent. Instead, he said he agreed with Wynn’s lawyers that the department could not compel him now to register as a foreign agent because any relationship Wynn had with the Chinese government ended in 2017.

The order is a setback for stepped-up Justice Department efforts to enforce a decades-old law known as the Foreign Agents Registration Act. It requires anyone who lobbies on behalf of a foreign government or entity to register their work with the U.S. government.

“We are delighted that the District Court today dismissed the government’s ill-conceived lawsuit against Steve Wynn,” his lawyers, Reid Weingarten and Robert Luskin, said in a statement. “Mr. Wynn never acted as an agent of the Chinese government and never lobbied on its behalf.”

The Justice Department said in a statement that it “respectfully disagrees with today’s ruling and is considering options in the litigation and more generally,” and remains committed to enforcing the lobbying law.

The department had repeatedly advised Wynn over the past four years to register. It sued him in May to try to force him to do so, describing the suit as the first of its kind in more than three decades.

The complaint alleged that Wynn, a prolific Republican donor and onetime finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, lobbied then-President Donald Trump and members of his administration for several months in 2017 to expel from the United States a Chinese citizen who had been charged with corruption in China and was seeking political asylum in America. Efforts to send the man back to China were ultimately unsuccessful.

According to the complaint, the lobbying effort was conducted on behalf of senior Chinese government officials, including Sun Lijun, the then-vice minister of the Ministry of Public Security who sought Wynn’s help in trying to get the Chinese man’s new U.S. visa application denied.

The lobbying effort also included conversations over dinner with Trump and by telephone, and multiple visits to the White House by Wynn for apparently unscheduled meetings with the issue was discussed.

The complaint said Wynn was motivated to protect his business interests in China. At the time, his company owned and operated casinos in the Chinese territory of Macau. The government in Macau had restricted the number of gaming tables and machines that could be operated at Wynn’s casino, the Justice Department said, and he was scheduled to renegotiate licenses to operate casinos in 2019.

Lawyers for Wynn denied at the time of the suit that he had acted as an agent of the Chinese government or that he had had an obligation to register. They later moved to dismiss the lawsuit, noting that his relationship with the Chinese government had ended in 2017.

Wynn’s team cited a 1987 appeals court opinion suggesting that the obligation to register as a foreign agent terminates once the relationship with foreign entity has ended. In his opinion, Boasberg said that ruling required dismissal of the suit.

“The Court will thus do so without ever considering whether Wynn was a PRC agent or not,” Boasberg wrote, using the acronym for the People’s Republic of China.

Wynn resigned in 2018 as chairman and CEO of the casino and resorts company bearing his name, after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct. He has denied those allegations.

___

Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg gestures during joint statements with Romanian President Kl...
Associated Press

NATO ministers meet to drum up more aid, arms for Ukraine

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his NATO counterparts are gathering in Romania on Tuesday to drum up urgently needed support for Ukraine, including deliveries of electrical components for the war-torn country’s devastated power transmission network. Ukraine’s grid has been battered countrywide since early October by targeted Russian strikes, in […]
2 hours ago
A man walks by policemen monitoring inside a police vehicle parked near the site of last weekend pr...
Associated Press

Chinese university students sent home amid protests

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese universities are sending students home as the ruling Communist Party tightens anti-virus controls and tries to prevent more protests after crowds angered by its severe “zero COVID” restrictions called for President Xi Jinping to resign in the biggest show of public dissent in decades. With police out in force, there was […]
1 day ago
South Carolina Rep. Jerry Govan, D-Orangeburg, looks over a map during a House redistricting commit...
Associated Press

S. Carolina’s US House maps under scrutiny because of race

A trial to determine whether South Carolina’s congressional maps are legal closes Tuesday with arguments over whether the state Legislature diluted Black voting power by remaking the boundaries of the only U.S. House district Democrats have flipped in more than 30 years. The trial also marks the first time the South Carolina maps have been […]
1 day ago
FILE - This photo provided by the Missouri Department of Corrections shows Kevin Johnson.  A federa...
Associated Press

Missouri prepares to execute man for killing officer in 2005

A Missouri inmate convicted of ambushing and killing a St. Louis area police officer he blamed in the death of his younger brother was scheduled to be executed Tuesday, though his lawyers are seeking to have the lethal injection halted. Kevin Johnson’s legal team doesn’t deny that he killed Police Officer William McEntee in 2005, […]
1 day ago
In this aerial photo released by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Mauna Loa volcano is seen erupting...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: What hazards are posed by Hawaii’s Mauna Loa?

HONOLULU (AP) — Lava is shooting 100 feet to 200 feet (30 to 60 meters) into the air as Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, erupts for the first time in nearly 40 years. For now, lava is not threatening any homes or communities and no evacuation orders have been issued. Lava could […]
1 day ago
Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. (AP Ph...
Associated Press

Asian shares rise except Japan as markets eye China protests

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mostly higher Tuesday as jitters over protests in China set off by growing public anger over COVID-19 restrictions subsided. U.S. futures edged higher. Oil prices rose more than $1 per barrel. Chinese shares rebounded after they were hit by sharp losses on Monday following protests over the weekend in […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
...
SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
Judge ends lobbying suit against casino developer Steve Wynn