With the support of Sen. Chris Dodd, D.-Conn., the federal
government has awarded $54 million to Connecticut's
politically well-connected Mohegan Indian tribe, which
operates one of the highest grossing casinos in the U.S.
The tribe runs the sprawling Mohegan Sun casino, halfway
between New York City and Boston, which earned more than
$1.3 billion in gross revenues in 2009. Each tribe member
receives a cut of the profits, a number a tribal official said was
"less than $30,000" per capita per year. The stimulus money
is a loan from a U.S. Department of Agriculture rural
development program that is meant to help communities of
less than 20,000 people that have been "unable to obtain
other credit at reasonable rates and terms and are unable to
finance the proposed project from their own resources."
Lynn Malerba, chairwoman of the Mohegan Tribal Council,
defended the award of the stimulus loan to the tribe, and said
that every member of Connecticut's seven-member
Congressional delegation except one had provided assistance
in securing the funds. "The whole Connecticut delegation, I
think aside from [Rep.] Jim Himes, who was traveling, sent a
letter in support."
Bryan DeAngelis, communications director for Sen. Dodd,
confirmed Dodd's support for the loan. "Senator Dodd
supported this project in the same manner and for the same
reasons he supports federal assistance for other Connecticut
projects – creating and preserving local jobs," said DeAngelis.
"The only factor that mattered in Dodd's support of these
loans was job creation and economic recovery in Connecticut."
A former aide to Dodd, Charles Bunnell, is Chief of Staff for
External and Governmental Affairs for the tribe.
An aide to Sen. Joseph Lieberman said the senator "is
supportive of any constituent that applies for federal funding
that will create jobs."
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