The Oneida Indian Nation of New York has kicked off a TV ad campaign claiming that U.S. Senator Charles Schumer was involved in “back-room deal-making” to promote a Catskills casino deal with the Wisconsin Stockbridge Munsee Tribe of Mohicans.
In the ads, which bear the single-word banner “Shameful,” the Oneidas assert that Schumer “engaged in secret deal-making with former Governor Paterson, and hid the details of the meetings from the public.” They also ask Governor Andrew Cuomo and the U.S. Department of Interior to pull the plug on “this deeply flawed agreement.”
Last year, in the final days of his administration, Paterson signed a compact with the Stockbridge Munsee to build and operate a full-scale casino resort in Bridgeville, in the town of Thompson, Sullivan County.
Casino operators around the state responded with fury, saying the competition would hurt the existing industry; they also were incensed that the former governor brokered the deal with an out-of-state tribe. While based in Wisconsin, the Mohicans claim ancestral ties to New York. They accepted 333 acres of land in the Catskills in settlement for 23,000 acres in Madison County.
The Interior Department, which has historically frowned on off-reservation casinos, was to approve or reject the deal by February 18. Cuomo has not officially taken a position on the Stockbridge-Munsee deal, but said last year that he had no problem with it.