The Washington Post

Lobbyists working for Redskins worked for Sen. Warner

Sen. Mark Warner ( D-Va.) gestures as he addresses a crowd during a his campaign kickoff tour in Richmond, Va., Thursday, May 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Remember when Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) was one of only a handful of Senate Democrats not to sign a letter calling on the NFL to urge the Redskins to change its name? Warner’s office told The Washington Post in May, “it’s not for Congress to dictate what the league does.”

Warner, of course, represents the state where the Redskins practice, and Virginia’s second senator Tim Kaine (D) also did not sign the letter. It’s a sensitive issue politically to represent diehard fans who may not want the name changed while acknowledging that many consider it a racial slur.

But in classic Washington fashion, two lobbyists for the Redskins listed on disclosure forms are former Warner aides. In June, the Redskins hired McGuireWoods Consulting to represent them a week after 50 senators sent the letter to the NFL. The firm, in its disclosure, says its mission includes discussing “team origins, history and traditions.”

That lobbyists Andrew Smith and Heather Martin both worked for Warner was spotted by Legistorm, which keeps an extensive database of congressional staff.

Smith worked on Warner’s 2008 Senate campaign and then in his congressional office as assistant to the chief of staff for most of 2009 before moving to Warner’s leadership PAC as a director, according to Legistorm data. Martin worked on Warner’s gubernatorial PAC, One Virginia, as a director in 2002-2003.

Smith is well past the one-year cooling off period between working on the Hill and lobbying his former office, so he can directly contact Warner.

The revolving door in this town is dizzying.

UPDATE: Kaine’s office wanted us to point out that he supports changing the Redskins’s name, but did not sign the senators’ letter because of tone. In a June 22 letter to the editor published in the Virginian-Pilot, Kaine wrote, “The name, chosen in a different era, is offensive by today’s standards, and I encourage the team’s ownership to make an enlightened decision to change it.”


Colby Itkowitz is the lead anchor of the Inspired Life blog. She previously covered the quirks of national politics and the federal government.

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