The family of at least one member of Congress invested in disgraced casino mogul Steve Wynn’s company at exactly the wrong time.
Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), the chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee, reported acquiring stock in Wynn Resorts on the same day that The Wall Street Journal reported on widespread allegations of sexual misconduct against the company’s chief executive. Within two weeks, both had sold their shares—at a considerable loss.
Sessions spokesperson Caroline Boothe said the transactions were made by the congressman’s wife, who manages the family’s finances, and were entirely “performance-based.”
She “saw that [Wynn stock] was doing well and bought, and then saw that it was doing poorly, and she sold,” Boothe said. She noted that the allegations against Wynn caused the stock price to plummet, but said that those allegations didn’t prompt the sale directly.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) also sold his stock in Wynn’s company right around the time of his demises. Financial disclosure forms show that he and his wife sold between $32,000 and $130,000 in two transactions, one on the day of the Journal story, and one three days later. Burr’s office noted that, “Senator Burr’s financial advisor manages investing decisions without input from Sen. Burr.”
Sessions’ wife waited until Feb. 8 to sell their stake, worth between $1,000 and $15,000, according to financial disclosure forms.
Members of Congress face relatively few restrictions in the stocks that they purchase, which has come under heightened scrutiny amid accusations that some members have used insider knowledge of political developments in order to get ahead of movements in the market. This was, decidedly, not one of those cases.
On Jan. 26, when the Journal story came out, the value of Wynn Resorts stock was at roughly $200 per share. By the time that Sessions’ wife sold it on Feb. 8, it was trading at roughly $172.
Wynn was the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee before stepping down from that role after the Journal story broke. He left his executive role at Wynn Resorts in early February. Gaming regulators in Nevada and Massachusetts have opened investigations into the sexual misconduct allegations.
Allegations have continued to pile up in the meantime. The Associated Press recently obtained police reports from the 1970s showing that Wynn had been accused of rape by a woman who claimed to have fathered his child. Wynn vehemently disputed those allegations.
This piece has been updated for clarity.