News & Politics

Redskins Hire Lobbying Firm to Defend Team Name

Dan Snyder turns to K Street to improve his team's reputation.

Photograph by Flickr user Kevin Coles.

After its attempt to fight Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on the reputation of its name over social media backfired horribly, Washington’s NFL franchise is taking a more traditional route: It has hired one of K Street’s elite lobbying firms.

The team has retained McGuireWoods Consulting to engage members of Congress in “discussions of team origins, history, and traditions,” according to a lobbying disclosure form that surfaced today.

Members of Congress and their staffs should also prepare to be approached about the team’s charitable efforts, including the recently launched Original Americans Foundation, which donates undisclosed amounts of money to Native American reservations.

The franchise’s hiring of McGuireWoods comes a few weeks after Reid and 49 other senators sent NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a letter asking him to persuade Washington owner Dan Snyder to change the name of his team.

The team’s general manager, Bruce Allen, responded a week later by asking Washington fans to pelt Reid with tweets declaring #RedskinsPride. It didn’t go exactly as Allen planned when many opponents of the team name used the hashtag to point out its usual definition as a racial slur against Native Americans.

But tweets are mostly free, and easier to ignore than paid lobbyists who drop by the office. At the very least, McGuireWoods joins a lineup defending the team’s name that already includes White House fixer Lanny Davis, wedge-issue mastermind Frank Luntz, and former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.