Washington commanders are raising questions about the connection between the law and public relations firms representing former team employees and House Oversight Committee Democrats who launched a culture probe last year team work.
Franchise lawyers suggested in a letter to the House Oversight Committee last week that law firm Katz Banks Kumin LLP – best known for its representation of Brett Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford – and the firm public relations SKDK could have a “financial stake in the outcome of the investigation.”
It’s a tricky way of saying this: Debra Katz and Lisa Banks are both donors for members of the Oversight Committee, including Rep. Jamie Raskin (D., Md.), whose investigation into commanders of Washington in turn provides their company with a lot of business. Likewise, committee Democrats have a warm relationship with SKDK, which runs communications campaigns for Democratic politicians and left-wing organizations, and provides those services to former commanders’ employees.
That’s not the only optical problem the investigation has run into: Oversight Committee member Raja Krishnamoorthi (D., Ill.) abruptly canceled a spring fundraiser that was supposed to be organized by a prominent Democratic family behind a campaign to boycott commanders. Prospective lobbyists and hosts Tom and Mike Manatos touted Krishnamoorthi as their best chance to “get rid of Snyder”, a reference to Commanders owner Dan Snyder.
Last week’s letter from the team’s legal counsel is the latest salvo in one of Washington’s most bizarre congressional investigations. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D., NY) launched the investigation last October, after commanders paid the NFL a $10 million fine following an investigation into working conditions at the franchise . Republicans have questioned why a congressional committee charged with investigating waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government was investigating a private sports franchise.
Lawyers from Holland & Knight’s team say House Democrats have been “not interested” in receiving evidence they say would debunk the allegations of two clients of Katz Banks, the former posse. Commanders cheerleader Melanie Coburn and former team vice president of sales Jason Friedman. The attorneys offered to share evidence that contradicts their claims of a toxic workplace in an Oct. 5 letter, but said they had not heard from the committee. They said Katz Banks responded to the letter instead, raising additional questions about the relationship with the committee.
“Based on the fact that the only response to our letter came from Katz Banks, and not from you, it appears that this private law firm is now acting as de facto legal counsel to the Committee,” the lawyers wrote. to Maloney, the co-chairman of the Oversight Committee panel.
“The company’s prolonged involvement in this investigation raises significant questions about the company’s source of funding and/or its financial interest in the outcome of the investigation,” the attorneys said.
The Oversight Committee did not respond to a request for comment.