Emails obtained by ThinkProgress reveal that the [Washington ***skins] consulted with a group of high-profile Republican advisers, some of whose involvement with the team has not been previously reported, about how to handle this reporter’s questions about the organization’s approach to the campaign to change the team’s name.
Included in the email chain were Frank Luntz, the Republican messaging consultant famous for coining phrases like “climate change” and “death tax”; Ari Fleischer, who served as White House press secretary under George W. Bush from 2001 and 2003 and now runs a consulting firm called Ari Fleischer Sports Communications; George Allen, the former Virginia governor and U.S. senator who now runs the consulting firm George Allen Strategies; and Bruce Allen, George Allen’s brother and the organization’s general manager. Both Allens are the son of former Redskins head coach George Allen. The web sites for neither Fleischer nor Luntz’s firms include client lists. The Redskins’ vice president of communications, Tony Wyllie, confirmed that while Luntz had conducted a focus group on behalf the team, he has not been paid for other work with the Redskins, and that Fleischer and George Allen’s firm do not have contracts with the team. Fleischer, Luntz, and George Allen had not responded to requests for confirmation at press time.
But the fact that the men participated in the email chain at all is revealing. Last summer, when ThinkProgress first reported Luntz’s involvement in the team’s efforts to focus group the name, the Redskins and Luntz declined to confirm that Luntz or his firm, Luntz Global, were involved in the project.
The email chain shows that after this reporter requested comment on a number of issues related to the Redskins name and claims made by its opponents, Wyllie, forwarded the email to Luntz, Fleischer, and the Allens. George Allen’s response is the first included in the chain, and it suggests that the team reiterate its story about changing its name to honor Lone Star Dietz, even though the team can’t prove its claims.
Again, let’s just remind everyone that George Allen is the same guy who attacked a young Indian-American staffer for the Jim Webb for Senate campaign in 2006 as a “macaca” (racist term used in his mother’s native Tunisia). George Allen is also the same guy who reportedly “used the ‘n word’ habitually,” who loved the Confederate flag when he was growing up in the south…of California, that is; as a joke, stuck a severed deer head in a black man’s mailbox; referred to areas of Virginia with high minority populations as not constituting the “real Virginia;” etc. Yet THIS is one of the main people – along with the despicable/evil Frank Luntz – advising the Washington ***skins on how to (not) deal with their racist name? Lovely.