Casino Mogul Steve Wynn Wins Foreign Lobbying Case

Steve Wynn court case
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Casino mogul Steve Wynn has secured a legal victory as an appeals court dismissed a civil lawsuit filed by the US government. The case aimed to force Wynn to register as a foreign agent due to his lobbying efforts for the extradition of a Chinese billionaire.

Court Decision

The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit upheld a lower court’s decision on Friday, dismissing the lawsuit against Steve Wynn. The government sought to compel Wynn to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) for his efforts to facilitate the extradition of Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui during the Trump administration.

The three-judge panel ruled that “Wynn long ago ceased acting as a foreign agent, he has no present obligation to register,” aligning with the argument that FARA applies only to current violations, and it had been several years since Wynn’s alleged lobbying activities.

Background of the Case

In 2017, Wynn reportedly informed then-President Donald Trump and other administration officials that China was seeking Guo Wengui’s extradition. Guo, a billionaire, had been openly critical of the Chinese government. The Justice Department initiated legal proceedings against Wynn in May 2022, aiming to compel him to register as a foreign agent due to his advocacy efforts.

DC District Judge James Boasberg previously dismissed the lawsuit, reinforcing that FARA only applies to ongoing violations, a crucial point in the case.

Arguments and Implications

Robert Luskin, Wynn’s legal representative and a partner at Paul Hastings, argued that the panel should uphold Judge Boasberg’s decision, consistent with a prior DC Circuit decision regarding FARA’s interpretation. Luskin emphasized that Wynn did not engage in lobbying for China, disputing the government’s claims.

Justice Department attorneys expressed concerns that the lower court’s ruling could set a dangerous precedent. They warned that individuals might exploit the loophole by not disclosing their foreign agent status, knowing they could evade legal repercussions if they ceased their activities for foreign entities before being compelled to register.

Judicial Panel

The judicial panel included DC Circuit Judges Cornelia Pillard and Patricia Millett, both appointed by President Obama, and DC Circuit Judge Karen Henderson, appointed by President George H.W. Bush. Their unanimous decision underscores the judicial consensus on this matter.

Potential Impact on FARA Enforcement

This ruling has broader implications for the enforcement of FARA. The Justice Department’s concerns about potential abuses highlight the challenges in regulating foreign lobbying activities. The case has sparked discussions about whether FARA needs amendments to address such loopholes and ensure more effective oversight.

Wynn’s Legal Journey

Steve Wynn, a towering figure in the casino industry and former CEO of Wynn Resorts Ltd., has had his share of legal challenges. This victory in the appeals court represents a significant win for him and his legal team. However, the broader debate on FARA enforcement continues, with calls for more stringent regulations to prevent potential abuses.

Conclusion

Steve Wynn’s victory in the foreign lobbying case marks a critical moment in the ongoing discussion about foreign influence and lobbying in the United States. The dismissal of the lawsuit underscores the complexities of enforcing FARA and highlights the need for potential legislative updates to close existing loopholes. As the debate continues, this case serves as a reminder of the delicate balance between regulation and the rights of individuals involved in international advocacy.