Lawsuit Against The Former Interior Secretary Zinke Can Be Revived By Pequots: Judge Rules

Ryan Zinke

A ruling came forth on Friday by a federal judge in Washington D.C., that the Mashantucket Pequot tribe of Connecticut can renew a lawsuit against a former Interior Secretary Ryan.

The suit has accused the Department of Interior of blocking the approval of a Connecticut Casino illegally, after bowing to political pressure.

Political Blockage

Connecticut`s two federally recognized tribes are the Mohegan Tribe and the Pequots. The state legislature passed a law in 2016, which allowed them to build a so-called “satellite casino” off reservation, in East Windsor. The main purpose of this casino being to deflect competition from MGM Springfield.

The tribes request for approval was sent to the DOI`s Bureau of Indian Affairs in July 2017 and they were optimistic. They had been given assurity that approval of the amendments to the compact was certain.

The DOI can only reject on the grounds that a proposal violates the IGRA (Indian Gaming Regulatory Act). But despite this in October 2017, the tribes received a letter that DOI had `insufficient information` to make any decision. After ten months, the Mohegan tribe got approval but the Pequot tribe did not.

Enquiry Into Misconduct

The Pequots’ lawsuit claims Zinke “ultimately buckled under undue political pressure”. According to them this pressure came from Nevada Republican Congressmen Sen. Dean Heller and Rep. Mark Amodei.
US President Donald Trump invited Zinke to resign at the start of the year and is now facing investigations by many bodies.
“The administrative record or other evidence may ultimately demonstrate that the alleged political pressure did not occur or affect the Secretary’s decision,” Contreras reported on Friday. “But at this stage, Plaintiffs have plausibly alleged that significant political pressure was brought to bear on the issue and the Secretary may have improperly succumbed to such pressure.”

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