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Connecticut News

Zinke Reportedly Facing Federal Grand Jury Over Conn. Casino Interference

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Cliff Owen
/
AP
Former Security of the Interior Ryan Zinke

A federal grand jury is reportedly asking whether former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke lied to federal investigators. The case centers around Zinke’s decision to block Connecticut’s two tribes from building a new casino.

Zinke refused to allow the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes to open a casino to compete with the new MGM Grand casino in Springfield, Massachusetts.

U.S. Representative Joe Courtney says he and other members of Connecticut’s national delegation asked the Department of the Interior to open an investigation last year.

“This was a process that was sort of moving smartly – the two tribes’ request was going to be approved as a matter of routine law – and then suddenly things changed overnight.”

Sources told The New York Times the decision was made against the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ recommendation, and after meetings with MGM lobbyists. Tribal representatives say they also believe lobbyists influenced the decision.

“For Connecticut, it’s big stakes. This really is a major economic employment issue. And hopefully we’ll get some answers with a public finding at some point,” said Rep. Courtney

Federal grand juries do their work in private. But multiple sources, including The Washington Post, say prosecutors have already begun presenting evidence against Zinke, who stepped down earlier this year among multiple scandals.

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