In a stunning development late Wednesday, Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) Chairman Steve Crosby announced he was resigning from the commission and his post as chair.
It’s a post he has held since day one of the commission, and comes just one day before the MGC began discussing protocol for the Wynn investigation rollout, which is expected to be in early October.
“With a profound sense of sadness, regret – and yes, frustration – I am resigning as Chair of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, in order to give you the best possible opportunity to do your work without distraction,” he wrote in a letter late Wednesday. “And I leave the leadership of this organization in the very capable hands of your four Commissioners. I am deeply proud of the work we have done together – and I know you will continue your remarkable innovative work on behalf of the people of Massachusetts.”
A day later, with Crosby no longer at the helm and not even in the building for the MGC’s regular meeting, an empty chair sat where he normally sits.
The members conferred at the outset of the Sept. 27 meeting, and nominated Commissioner Gayle Cameron to serve as the interim chair, which she accepted.
“I am grateful for your confidence and if this is what you want, I’m happy to step forward in doing this on an interim role and keeping it rolling and the work going.”
Gov. Charlie Baker thanked Crosby for this service on the MGC, and it is believed that he will make an appointment for the new chair in the near future.
“Governor Baker thanks Chairman Crosby for his service and respects his decision to step aside as the Commission moves forward with the important task of reviewing the Wynn company’s suitability,” read a statement from spokesperson Lizzy Guyton. “The Baker-Polito Administration believes the Commission must carefully review these very troubling allegations and the actions of the company since they came to light.”
As it is now, the MGC will hear the Wynn investigation with only four commissioners, which was also the case when they heard and voted for the gaming license some years ago. At that time, Crosby had to recuse himself from deliberations due to a perceived conflict.
Crosby’s decision last week was based on the fact that he has been barraged by both sides of the Wynn discussion saying he is not credible and should step aside.
He said on Sept. 17, lawyers for Steve Wynn contacted him and said he was not fit to oversee the matter because they believed that he had made up his mind against Wynn.
Meanwhile, on Sept. 25, lawyers from Mohegan Sun contacted him and said he should recuse himself because they believed he had already made up his mind in favor of Wynn.
Compounding it was the $3 billion lawsuit filed by Suffolk Downs last week against Wynn that discusses Crosby at length.
“Suffolk Downs filed a $3 billion lawsuit against Wynn Resorts, in which pages of accusations regurgitated false claims of bias made against me in the past,” he wrote. “Sadly, we’ve been here before. It was about four years ago that the Gaming Commission was battered by lawsuits and accusations of bias in the matter of the Region A licensing process. I was often at the center of these lawsuits and accusations. As the Commissioners now prepare to receive and deliberate on the IEB investigation of the suitability of Wynn Resorts to hold the Region A license, the lawsuits, threats of lawsuits and false allegations have begun anew.”
He said he believed that, like before, the decision made in the coming month would once again be challenged in court.
“I simply cannot let my involvement in these critical deliberations be used by others to hamper the Commission’s ability to do its work, or to undermine the confidence of the public in that work,” he wrote. “There has never been a shred of truth or accuracy to any charge of bias, favoritism, corrupt practice, ethics violations, or prejudgment in my execution of this job. I established our core value that our work must be ‘participatory, transparent and fair.’ I live that core value, as you do.”
The remainder of Crosby’s resignation letter rehashed the successes the MGC has seen, including the opening of the Springfield casino and the Plainville slot parlor. He said he was very proud of the work and believed it to be phenomenal.
At the Sept. 27 meeting, Commissioners praised Crosby’s work on the Commission and said he was a champion of opening up the industry to be inclusive of all people.
“I agree with stresses he talks about in the letter and the frustrations,” said Commissioner Enrique Zuniga. “This is a frustrating situation. I share that same frustration in the sense that our comments are used to try to undermine the work we do. I regret his decision. It’s all for the better…We have been in this situation before with four commissioners…I believe some time in the near future, when the legacy of Steve is more accurately written, this day will be a footnote because of his unwavering believe in the actions of this agency.”
Crosby was approaching the final months of his term, with his appointment ending in March 2019. He would not have been eligible for re-appointment by the governor at that time.
Wynn lawyers contacted MGC regarding Crosby comments
After being mum for many months, attorney for Steve Wynn contacted the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) on Sept. 17 regarding comments allegedly made to a MassLive reporter by former Chair Steve Crosby.
The letter, from Attorney L. Lin Wood of Atlanta, states that Crosby is quoted as calling the former Wynn CEO a sexual predator.
The article in question came out on Sept. 13 and has Crosby quoted as saying that there was “by all accounts at least one terrible predator.”
The letter from Attorney Wood indicates that Crosby defamed Wynn as a sexual predator and that the MGC report has made that finding.
“It was my understanding that the IEB investigation of Wynn Resorts is not yet complete and that both you and the other Commissioners will be informed of the investigation’s results only when the IEB’s work has concluded,” read the letter. “Your comments, however, make clear that you, as the Chairman of the Commission, have already made you conclusions. The fact that you have concluded Mr. Wynn is a ‘terrible predator’ while the investigation is ongoing suggests that the investigation lacks objectivity and that it was designed and executed not as an independent fact-finding exercise, but to make findings consistent with your preconceived notions of Mr. Wynn.”
The letter went on to say that the comments were defamatory because “All allegations of non-consensual sex are false and defamatory, because Mr. Wynn has never engaged in non-consensual sex.”
The letter said to avoid litigation, Wynn demands that:
- the investigation into Wynn’s personal life cease immediately.
- the MGC and Crosby refrain from making further comments about the investigation.
- that the investigation will not release any details about unproven allegations of sexual misconduct about Wynn.
- promptly publish a full and fair retraction.
The letter ended with the marvelous phrase, “Govern yourself accordingly.”