Interior agency delayed tribal casino approval after competitor’s lobbying: report

Interior agency delayed tribal casino approval after competitor’s lobbying: report
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A pair of American Indian tribes are accusing Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeTrump flails as audience dwindles and ratings plummet OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senior Interior official contacted former employer, violating ethics pledge: watchdog | Ag secretary orders environmental rollbacks for Forest Service | Senate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Senior Interior official contacted former employer, violating ethics pledge: watchdog MORE and an agency in his department of slow-walking approval for a casino they want to build, Politico reported.

The Interior Department decided to exceed the 45-day limit after officials spoke with MGM Resorts International, a casino giant that opposes the Connecticut casino and is developing a competing project in nearby Massachusetts.

Documents obtained by Politico show that Interior officials had numerous calls and meetings with MGM and Republican lawmakers who support its position, but there is no evidence that the casino issue came up.

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The Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes sued Zinke and Interior in federal court over the delay.

“It’s 100 percent about delaying us for as long as they possibly can,” Andrew Doba, a spokesman for the joint venture the tribes formed, told Politico.

Interior, as the department responsible for the federal government’s relations with tribes, is obligated to review changes to state gambling agreements with tribes.

But in the case, Associate Deputy Interior Secretary James Cason said such a decision would be “premature” and his department had “insufficient information” to make it, Politico reported.

Interior did not respond to Politico’s requests for comment, nor did representatives of Nevada's Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE or Rep. Mark AmodeiMark Eugene AmodeiBipartisan lawmakers call for Postal Service relief Mnuchin details IRS challenges with cash-only marijuana businesses On The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare MORE, both Republicans.