Blumenthal, Murphy, Larson, Courtney Urge Interior OIG to Investigate New Revelations Regarding Tribal Decision

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Congressmen John Larson (CT-1) and Joe Courtney (CT-2) issued the following letter to the U.S. Department of Interior Office of the Inspector General bringing to their attention new revelations reported in the Huffington Post regarding additional meetings between MGM officials and Interior Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt. Those meetings took place prior to the stunning reversal of staff recommendations to approve the amendments to the Tribal-State agreements.

Blumenthal, Murphy, Larson and Courtney sought the initial investigation by the OIG into Interior’s highly unusual decision to take no action regarding proposed amendments to the Tribal-State agreements between the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot Tribes and the State of Connecticut. That investigation is ongoing.

Full text of the letter is copied below.

 

    May 7, 2018

 

The Honorable Mary L. Kendall

Deputy Inspector General

Office of the Inspector General

U.S. Department of the Interior

1849 C Street, Northwest

Washington, D.C.  20240

 

Dear Ms. Kendall:

On February 9, 2018, we wrote to request your investigation into the decision of the U.S. Department of the Interior (Interior) to take no action regarding the proposed amendments to the Tribal-State agreements between the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot Tribes and the State of Connecticut.  We indicated that this decision raises serious questions as to whether the Department of the Interior is properly carrying out its longstanding legal trust responsibilities regarding Native American Tribes. See generally, Seminole Nation v. United States 316 U.S. 286 (1942).  We also cited a Politico article that raised issues of potential conflicts of interest and impartial decision making, noting that the Secretary refused to even talk with members of the Connecticut delegation about these Connecticut-specific amendments while “MGM and its allies had direct access to Interior.”

 We appreciate your office’s quick response to our February request by initiating an investigation and write now to bring to your attention to the attached May 2, 2018 Huffington Post article containing additional information raising even more concerns about the propriety of the actions of the Secretary of the Interior and his staff.   This article highlights additional meetings between MGM officials and Interior Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt prior to the stunning reversal of staff recommendations to approve the amendments to the Tribal-State agreements.  

 We thought this information might be of interest to your investigation and look forward to your response.