CTNewsJunkie file photo
Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague (CTNewsJunkie file photo)

A Connecticut state Senator didn’t pull any punches in a Nov. 18 letter to a top executive at MGM Resorts International criticizing the company for an election night party it sponsored at the Washington Post.

Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, said she was writing to communicate her “disgust” with what happened at the party.

According to an article in the Huffington Post, napkins printed with the MGM logo were attached to the dress of a server and guests were encouraged to pull the napkins off gradually revealing a dress below. The Washingtonian posted a picture of the ensemble on its website.

“Many of the attendees were sickened by the display, which they saw as gratuitously misogynistic,” Osten wrote to MGM Executive Vice President Alan Feldman.

Osten asked Feldman to “explain how the corporate culture in your organization would allow such an idea to be deemed an acceptable to commemorate a difficult and divisive campaign.”

In his response to Osten, Feldman acknowledged the concerns regarding the reports of the party.

“Had the events reported on the internet occurred in the manner they have been described, they would in no way, shape or form reflect the MGM culture,” Feldman wrote. “But, as we are all learning, the ‘news’ we read online, is not always accurate.”

Washington Post reporters, most of whom were working Nov. 8 and not participating in the election night festivities, also voiced their displeasure at the napkin-clad server. According to the Huffington Post article, Post Articles Editor Elizabeth Chang sent a letter to Post leadership on behalf of around 150 male and female staffers.

“The fact that this happened at a Washington Post party at the conclusion of an election in which the issue of sexual assault played a huge role is upsetting and infuriating and counter to what we thought The Post stood for in this election,” the letter read.

But Osten’s letter was less about the election party and more about a local battle over a third Connecticut casino.

The last paragraph of Osten’s letter referred to MGM’s casino project in Springfield, Mass., and accused MGM of “stealing jobs” from her district in southeastern Connecticut.

“Unfortunately, I can’t say that I’m surprised by this report,” Osten said. “After all, you’ve made stealing jobs from my district part of your business model.”

Feldman said while he appreciated her “passion” he felt her statement was a “grave mischaracterization of MGM’s efforts in Connecticut.”

MGM has sued the state in federal court hoping for a chance at competing against the two federally recognized tribes to build a third casino in Connecticut. Currently, only the two federally recognized tribes in Connecticut have been given permission by the General Assembly to site a third casino.

This summer U.S. District Court Judge Alvin Thompson dismissed the lawsuit saying that MGM failed to “adequately allege an injury” from a law enacted last year that allows the state’s two Indian tribes to form a special business entity and to negotiate casino development with a town. Thompson said that because any injury to MGM is “purely speculative,” the company doesn’t have legal standing to sue. MGM appealed and oral arguments will be heard next week by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Our position on Connecticut’s first venture into the commercial casino industry is clear: if Connecticut wants to maximize the number of jobs created and revenue for the state, it should scrap the current process in favor of one that is fair, open, transparent, and competitive,” Feldman wrote to Osten. “Such a process would result in the creation of thousands of jobs and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for a state whose current economic status could benefit from both.”