AP NEWS

Criminal probe in D.C. leads to East Windsor casino plan

February 25, 2019

A reported investigation into former secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s delay in the tribal casino plan for East Windsor has prompted an Eastern Connecticut senator to push harder for the stalled project.

Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, said the Washington, D.C. grand jury, revealed in a report over the weekend in The Washington Post, makes her proposal to make minor changes to the compact among the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes and the State of Connecticut, more important.

The Post reported that a grand jury is investigating Zinke’s decision that is holding up the planned East Windsor site, which the tribes have planned to develop as an in-state gambling destination to keep money, and jobs, in Connecticut and away from the MGM Resorts Casino in Springfield, Mass..

The report says the Department of Justice was probing whether Zinke lied to them about his decision.

“The stench surrounding Ryan Zinke’s role in this tribal delay is overwhelming, and the fact that a grand jury is now hearing new evidence about Zinke’s role in this is even more reason to pass Senate Bill 11 and get on with the business of creating jobs and growing Connecticut’s economy,” said Osten, vice-chair of the Public Safety Committee. Coincidentally, the committee will hold a public hearing Tuesday on Osten’s proposal.

“We can’t let one man, who is now being investigated by federal authorities, stand in the way of what was green-lighted a year and a half ago by another Interior Department official,” Osten said. “It’s outrageous.” Zinke quit his job in December.

An additional casino is governed by the 1994 agreement that gives the tribes exclusive gambling franchises in exchange for 25 percent of slot-machine revenue going to the state. In May of last year, the Department of the Interior approved changes to the Mohegan’s compact, but not the Pequot’s, which was the first tribe in the state to open a casino.

kdixon@ctpost.com Twitter: @KenDixonCT