DOJ’s Steve Wynn ‘Foreign Agent’ Suit Dismissed on Federal Appeal

A federal appeals court tossed out a Department of Justice (DOJ) case against Republican National Committee (RNC) finance chair and former Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn aimed at forcing his foreign agent registration.

The decision, handed down last Friday, is the likely culmination of a civil suit initiated by the DOJ in May 2022. The lawsuit attempted to compel Wynn to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which requires that those working to sway US policy on behalf of foreign interests disclose specific information.

According to officials in 2022, the case against Wynn was the first brought under FARA in over 30 years.

The dismissal challenges heightened federal efforts to stamp out unknown foreign influence in the US.

Still, in a more recent effort, last October, the DOJ alleged that Sen. Bob Menendez conspired with his wife and others to benefit Egypt. The Menendez indictment marks the first time officials have accused a sitting US senator of working to advance another government’s interests in the US.

Feds Can’t Force FARA Registration After The Fact

According to the DOJ’s initial 2022 argument, Wynn had lobbied the Trump Administration on behalf of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 2017. Specifically, the DOJ said Wynn pressed the then-President to extradite Guo Wengui, a PRC critic under asylum in the US.

Wynn, through his legal team, denied the accusations.

Later, in an October 2022 decision, US District Judge James E. Boasberg sided with Wynn and his lawyers. Ultimately, Boasberg ruled the government had no authority to force retroactive FARA registration on Wynn.

Importantly, Boasberg did not rule on whether Wynn fit the criteria of a foreign agent. Instead, he determined that Wynn’s contact with the PRC ended in 2017. So, whether Wynn acted as a foreign agent or not, the timeline rendered the case moot.

With its 2023 appeal, the US government argued Judge Boasberg ruled in error and urged judgment for reversal.

But, with this appeals court decision, the three-judge appeals panel backed the lower court’s decision.

As the appeal judges wrote:

Even accepting the government’s allegations as true, Wynn long ago ceased acting as a foreign agent, he has no present obligation to register.

In coverage of the dismissal by The Hill, Paul Hasting LLP’s Bob Luskin, who led Wynn’s defense, expressed delight at the outcome.

Without commenting on the specifics, we are delighted with the result. It is a well-deserved finish to a long ordeal for our client.

The DOJ did not immediately return Bonus’s request for comment.

About the Author

Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil (she/they) is a Nova Scotia-based writer and editor, and a lead writer at Bonus. Here she focuses on news relevant to online casinos, while specializing in responsible gambling coverage, legislative developments, gambling regulations, and industry-related legal fights.
Back To Top

Get connected with us on Social Media