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Lawmakers renew call for probe of Interior’s handling of gaming amendments

June 12, 2018 GMT

Connecticut’s U.S. senators and two congressmen from the eastern part of the state have renewed their call for an internal investigation of the Department of the Interior’s handling of gaming-agreement amendments the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes signed with the state.

The department published a notice June 1 that the Mohegan amendment is effective, but has not acted on the Mashantucket amendment. Under state law, both tribes must secure the federal approvals before proceeding with development of an East Windsor casino authorized a year ago.

“We remain deeply concerned about the propriety of the actions of the Department of the Interior officials as articulated in our February 9, 2018 letter,” write Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and Reps. John Larson, D-1st District, and Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, in a letter released today.

“Further, the timing of the decision by the Department to publish the Mohegan Compact amendment more than six months after federal law required and the failure of the Department to provide similar effect to the Mashantucket Pequot amendment raises additional questions and concerns which the Inspector General should review,” the letter says.

The letter, dated Friday, is addressed to Mary Kendall, the Interior Department’s deputy inspector general.

MMCT Venture, the tribal partnership formed to pursue the East Windsor casino, released a separate statement today from Rodney Butler, the Mashantucket chairman.

“DOI has never treated our agreements with the state any different than the Mohegan Tribe’s agreements with the state, and there’s no reason they should start doing so now,” he said. “We thank the delegation for their work and join their call for the Department to act responsibly and publish the amendment.”

b.hallenbeck@theday.com