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Anti-Casino Leaders are Thorn in Connecticut Politicians' Sides

26 July 2002

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As reported by the Stamford Advocate: "An unusual meeting yesterday between Connecticut's congressional delegation and anti-casino municipal leaders ended only with promises of more attention to an issue that may be close to boiling over.

"After the meeting, Republican U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons called for an immediate congressional investigation into the recent federal Bureau of Indian Affairs decision to recognize the historical Eastern Pequot Tribe of North Stonington.

"Meanwhile, political leaders in Connecticut were charging that a highly paid lobbyist with close ties to President Bush and Gov. John Rowland may have improperly influenced the recognition, which is likely to lead to more gambling casinos in Connecticut. Federally recognized tribes may open casinos in the state.

"…After the two-hour Washington meeting, participants, including state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, stressed the unity of the group. U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Bridgeport, called tribal recognition and casinos `an incredible runaway train.'

"…Critics have raised questions about the role that Republican activist and Washington lobbyist Ronald Kaufman may have played in the recognition of the historical Eastern Pequots. In that decision, the BIA ruled that two rival groups, the Eastern Pequots and the Paucatuck Eastern Pequots, are members of the same historical Eastern Pequot tribe.

"Kaufman, a top aide in the White House under former President George Bush, has been paid about $500,000 over the past four years for his work advising the tribe.

"The towns of Ledyard, North Stonington and Preston -- whose elected leaders met with the Connecticut delegation -- also have spent freely in their effort to prevent the tribe from winning federal acknowledgment and the right to open a casino. The Washington law firm of Perkins Coie has been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the towns, largely for legal work fighting tribal recognition…"

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