Federal lawmakers call for official probe into government inaction

In Connecticut, four federal lawmakers have reportedly called for an official investigation into why the United States Department of the Interior has yet to authorize amendments that were made last year to the eastern state’s gaming compact with the Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.

According to a Monday report from the Hartford Courant newspaper, United States Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal have joined with Joe Courtney and John Larson from the United States House of Representatives to request that the Office of the Inspector General conduct a formal probe into the United States Department of the Interior’s ‘highly unusual decision to take no action’ on the amendments ratified in late-July.

The four Democratic lawmakers reportedly argue there is evidence that the United States Department of the Interior has failed to ‘honor its legal trust responsibilities’ to the state’s only Federally-recognized tribes. They also purportedly cited a February 1 article from the Politico news service that alleged United States Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke (pictured) had ‘refused to even talk with members of the Connecticut delegation about these Connecticut-specific amendments’ while granting ‘direct access’ to MGM Resorts International ‘and its allies’.

“That’s wrong,” Blumenthal reportedly told the Hartford Courant before adding that it appeared that MGM Resorts International had obtained ‘access that far exceeded that of elected officials of Connecticut’. The 72-year-old senior Senator for Connecticut moreover purportedly declared that this ‘apparent conflict of interest’ was ‘more than enough’ grounds for the Office of the Inspector General to launch an investigation.

In order to get their planned Mohegan Sun Foxwoods East Windsor joint venture up and running, the Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation were reportedly required to sign amended gaming compacts last year that guaranteed the state would continue to receive 25% of the slot revenues generated at their existing Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino facilities in New London County. The planned casino has been designed to serve as a bulwark against the coming $950 million MGM Springfield venue being built by MGM Resorts International in neighboring Massachusetts but purportedly cannot begin operations until the United States Department of the Interior via its Bureau of Indian Affairs subordinate signs off on the changes.

Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International has long been an opponent of the tribe’s East Windsor scheme and unveiled a proposal of its own in September that would see it spend upwards of $675 million in order to bring a rival casino to Connecticut’s largest city, Bridgeport.

“There is litigation already underway that will ultimately determine matters in the public interest that the proposed Federal review seeks to address,” Uri Clinton, Senior Vice-President for MGM Resorts International, reportedly told the newspaper. “A Federal court will resolve these issues in due course.”

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