Might the Pequots hire Dan Malloy?

I should say up front I have no inside information about what two-term Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy plans to do when his time in the governor's mansion is up.

I doubt anyone expects another run for office of any kind, given his abysmal approval ratings as governor.

There was speculation before Donald Trump won the presidency that Hillary Clinton would bring Malloy to Washington. So that's not going to happen.

That seems to leave a cushy well-paid perch in the private sector as the usual, money-making turn for pre-retirement politicians looking for a last chance to cash in, segue from public to private payroll.

For Gov. Malloy, I can't help but wonder if that isn't a gig with the Mashantucket Pequots. After all, the governor has been good to both of Connecticut's gambling tribes, signing, as recently as last year, the legislation for a new commercial casino for them in East Windsor, a deal now bogged down in Trump's Washington.

The biggest and most generous Malloy gift to the tribes was his decision to allow them to take over police coverage of the casinos with tribal police and stop reimbursing the state to keep state police on the premises, an arrangement specified in the court-imposed compact that allowed tribal gambling in Connecticut in the first place.

The Pequots once managed to convince former Gov. John Rowland to remove some specific state police officers who were investigating tribal wrongdoing. But Malloy agreed to a full unilateral retreat.

The Pequot tribal police department is overseen by a career felon jailed in California pending the outcome of charges in which he was accused of driving drunk into a train with his underage children, whom police said he allowed to get drunk, in the car. He once served time in San Quentin for an incident in which prosecutors said he boasted about setting out to kill a white kid.

Curiously, Malloy started to whistle lawmakers into special session this week, after the U.S. Supreme Court opened the way to sports betting. It sure seems like Malloy wanted to put his imprint, while still in office, on the new gambling frontier in Connecticut that the tribes are claiming should be their exclusive purview.

Indeed, the tribes threaten they may stop making payments to the state on their tribal slot machines if legalized sports betting is allowed in the state by anyone other than them, violating, they say, the exclusive gambling deal that requires the slots payments.

This is the closest I've seen the state and tribes getting to a knock-down, drag-out over the slots payments, and Malloy could end up being the broker of the outcome, in the waning days of his governorship.

There's an awful lot of money on the table.

Given the setbacks in East Windsor and the impending competition from Massachusetts casinos, the Connecticut tribes might think their next best defensive crouch is to stop paying the state a share of slots and running tax-free casinos on their reservations.

There is a long history of a revolving door whooshing between the tribal governments and casinos and state politicians and regulators.

Searle Field, the former chief of staff to former Gov. Lowell P. Weicker, who signed the deal giving the Pequots slot machines, went on to work as chief of staff for the tribe. Field was later fined $1,000 by the State Ethics Commission for violating revolving door rules preventing state employees from dealing with their old agencies for one year.

The commission said he was "exceedingly negligent" in visiting the governor's office on behalf of the Pequots, months after he had stopped working in that very office.

Curiously, Field went to then Gov. Rowland's office to discuss evolving plans for a Bridgeport casino, an idea that has been revived again, with Democratic candidates for governor all in support.

John Meskill, the son of former Gov. Thomas J. Meskill, quit his job as Connecticut's top gambling regulator in 1997 to become head of the Pequots' gaming commission. He was the latest through the revolving door, whoosh, following Field, the state chief gambling regulator who preceded him, and a state police commander, who all left state employment to work for the Pequots.

Meskill said his move did not violate the law preventing state officials from immediately going to work for a "business" they regulated because he said he was working for tribal government. Meskill later moved over to work for the Mohegans, where he joined Charles Bunnell, a one-time aide to U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd, as politically connected additions to tribal government. Bunnell is Mohegan chief of staff.

In the waning days of his Senate career, Dodd helped Bunnell in 2010 land $54 million in federal stimulus money for a tribal government education building. Not a bad haul for a tribe reporting more than a billion in gambling revenues.

The fat lady has not yet started singing for the end of the Malloy era in Hartford.

Who knows what will happen when she does.

It wouldn't surprise me, though I have nothing to suggest it but speculation, that we might hear that familiar whoosh on one of the reservations.

This is the opinion of David Collins.



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