Schaghticoke Tribal Nation hires federal recognition foe for gaming lawsuit

Former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman (D-Connecticut). Photo from Travel with Turner / Facebook

The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation made news in a lot of ways on Monday by announcing a lawsuit that challenges the bidding process for a third casino in Connecticut.

Chief Richard Velky has been questioning the process for more than a year. Last March, he testified against the bill that became Special Act 15-7, which restricts the bidding to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe.

But Velky, for the first time, acknowledged that he approached MGM Resorts International about the issue soon afterward. The company also filed a lawsuit that challenges the casino process and is building a $950 million casino in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts, that the Pequots and the Mohegans fear will hurt their existing facilities.

"I went to them after I testified last year against the tribes," Velky said of his relationship with MGM, Dan Haar of The Hartford Courant reported.

The New England Casino Race: Tribal and commercial gaming facilities in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island

The relationship resulted in the complaint that was filed in federal court yesterday. But it was the last page of the 38-page document that contained another shocker: former Sen. Joe Lieberman signed the brief as senior counsel at the Kasowitz law firm.

Prior to leaving the Senate in 2013, Lieberman emerged as a major critic of the Bureau of Indian Affairs for its handling of federal recognition petitions. He sponsored a bill to help local communities oppose petitioning groups, tried to impose a moratorium on federal recognition decisions and pressured the Bush administration for approving the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation's petition.

The effort resulted in the BIA's reversal of its decision to recognize the tribe. Velky has repeatedly blamed politicians in the state, including Lieberman, for the move.

Get the Story:
Schaghticokes hire Lieberman to help sue state over casino law (The Connecticut Mirror 3/7)
Schaghticokes And MGM Unite To Fight Casino Law (The Hartford Courant 3/8)
MGM helping tribe with casino lawsuit (The Connecticut Post 3/7)
MGM partners with tribe to launch second front in legal battle against Connecticut casino plans (MassLive 3/7)

An Opinion:
Dan Haar: Schaghticokes, With MGM Money And Old Foe Joe Lieberman On Team, Can't Claim Underdog Status (The Hartford Courant 3/8)

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