Ronna Romney McDaniel (AP/Charlie Neibergall)

The Republicans' impossible sex-abuse double standard

The RNC was happy to attack Democrats for Harvey Weinstein and Al Franken. But they make excuses for their people


Jeremy Binckes
January 30, 2018 7:00PM (UTC)

Last year, Republicans were happy to point out that alleged serial sexual assaulter and social pariah Harvey Weinstein had strong ties to the Democrats — he was, after all, a big donor to their causes. One high-profile voice was Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the Republican Party, who gleefully used the Weinstein exposés to attack Dems and, in particular, Hillary Clinton.

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But her condemnation of "dirty money" appears to be softening, now that a top Republican is in similar crosshairs.

Steve Wynn, the casino mogul and finance chair of the Republican National Committee, is stepping down from his position, after a report revealed that numerous women have accused him of sexual assault.  After staying silent on the issue for much of the weekend, McDaniel said Tuesday that the allegations against Wynn shouldn't be believed because he didn't admit to them.

"Steve has denied these allegations — unlike Harvey Weinstein, Al Franken and others. Steve has denied them. There is an investigation that is going to take place. He should be allowed due process, and if he is found of any wrongdoing, we will absolutely return 100 percent of that money," McDaniel said.

She added that she took the allegations "seriously enough" to remove him from his position — without due process. But his money? That needs to stay with the GOP for as long as it can.

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Due process is a tricky phrase to use in this situation, as many have noted. It ensures fair legal treatment in the justice system. Due process has no basis in the court of public opinion, which found him guilty enough, apparently, for the RNC to no longer want him on the board.

The NRSC — the GOP's Senate-specific financing arm — is also facing a problem when it comes to Wynn's money, mostly because he's given so much.

Wynn and his company gave $3 million to the Republican Governors Association over the past 18 months, The Wall Street Journal reported. The association announced they were returning a fraction of the money.

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But the big problem for Republicans is that they've painted themselves into a corner on sexual harassment and assault. They have to live with the standard set by their party leader — a president accused by more than a dozen women of sexual assault — that accusations don't count if the accused denies them, and they count even less if a candidate wins an election after being accused.

Calls to the RNC weren't returned.

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Here's another reason for concern for anyone looking for justice and consistency from the Republicans. McDaniel said if the investigation found wrongdoing, Wynn's money would be returned. But if Wynn paid a $7.5 million settlement to a manicurist who claimed he pressured her into having sex with him, and if Weinstein's similar settlements were understood as an admission of wrongdoing — not guilt in a legal sense, but in the court of public opinion — wouldn't the case against keeping Wynn's money already be closed?


Jeremy Binckes

Jeremy Binckes is the senior news editor at Salon.com.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Donald Trump Gop Harvey Weinstein Republicans Rnc Steve Wynn

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