Secretary of the State Denise Merrill tried to make it clear Wednesday to the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation that an error by her office doesn’t give the tribe the legal authority to pursue building a casino in Connecticut.
“Please be advised that the Secretary of the State has no authority to confer legality on an applicant’s state purpose, but rather has authority to accept the filing of documents that meet the ministerial statutory filing elements under the authorizing statutes regarding the formation of legal entities,” William Silk, Merrill’s staff attorney, wrote Schaghticoke Chief Richard Velky on Wednesday.
In his letter to Merrill’s office last week, Velky said the tribe’s intention to pursue building a casino was clear on its application.
“We abided by the law, filed a complete, detailed application to develop a commercial casino in Connecticut, and our application for a business entity under Special Act 15-7 was approved,” Velky said. “We are ready to move forward.”
However there are at least two hurdles to a Schaghticoke casino. The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation is not a federally recognized tribe, which means they are not able to build a casino under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Also, Special Act 15-7 applied explicitly to the Mohegan Tribal Nation and the Mashantucket Pequots.
Silk said the Schahgticoke’s “articles of organization will remain on the public record,” but “the Secretary’s error in filing the document neither confers legality on the applicant’s state purpose nor properly authorizes the exercise of asserted rights under Special Act 15-7.”
Merrill’s office added no further comment Wednesday besides the letter.