BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Subway sandwich shop millionaire Fred Deluca (search) and a Connecticut Indian tribe plan to open a new casino in Bridgeport, but members of Congress are calling for an investigation, saying the Native American federal recognition process has been corrupted by big bucks and insider influence
The Schaghticoke Indians (search) of Connecticut — a tribe of 300 — recently won recognition after several denials. Their research and lobbying campaign is backed by millions of Deluca's dollars.
"We have an agreement and he will be paid back for the money he loaned the tribe and whatever the tribe and him reach as an understanding," said Schaghticoke Chief Richard Velky.
One understanding they may reach is to partner in opening a casino in Bridgeport.
Some gambling opponents complain the recognition process is being corrupted. They say small tribes in rich markets can attract the kind of money needed to hire expensive lobbyists with ties to the Interior Department's Bureau of Indian Affairs (search).
"They all know each other. It's something we need to get a handle on. It's very insidious," said Rep Christopher Shays (search), R-Conn.
Bureau officials were unavailable for comment, but Velky defends the process as open and above board. And after 300 years in Connecticut he says his people are just getting the recognition they deserve.
Click here for a report by Fox News' Jonathan Hunt.