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The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe filed suit against Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne last week, accusing him of undue delay and bad faith in considering the tribe’s application to put a casino by the Monticello Raceway in New York. The tribe has been waiting for a decision by Kempthorne since February, and its lawyers blame the “unprecedented” delay on Kempthorne’s personal feelings about off-reservation gambling. The suit was filed Oct. 31 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by Hobbs, Straus, Dean & Walker lawyers Jerry Straus, Michael Roy, and Marsha Schmidt and Holland & Knight attorneys Steven Gordon, Shenan Atcitty, and Stephen McHugh. Atcitty, who has been representing the tribe during the application process, says her client is frustrated. The complaint asks the court to force the secretary to take action on the tribe’s application within 30 days, and it asks for an order limiting the factors Kempthorne can consider to those specifically included in the law. Kempthorne, a former governor of Idaho, has publicly said he opposes off-reservation gaming, though officials at Interior have said Kempthorne is working to reconcile his past stance with his current role as a trustee. Interior is also considering new regulations that would make approval of such applications less likely. But in the meantime, more and more tribes have complained about delays in processing applications at Interior. Those complaints triggered a hearing last month by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. The Interior Department did not return calls seeking comment.
Carrie Levine can be contacted at [email protected].

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