The Slatest

NFL Hires House Majority Whip’s Aide as “Chief Republican Lobbyist”

Steve Scalise.

Alex Wong/Getty

The NFL has hired a political operative named Nicole Gustafson—an aide to House Majority Whip Steve Scalise who’s also worked for ex-Majority Leader Eric Cantor—as its “chief Republican lobbyist,” the Hill reports:

The league has long been in the market for a GOP guru to help it navigate public policy matters following November’s midterms, which left the party controlling both houses of Congress. … The NFL has been beefing up its K Street team as it faces tough questions from lawmakers about an array of issues, including head injuries and player safety, the league’s tax status, broadcasting rights and the use of performance enhancing drugs.

The NFL has spent about $10.12 million lobbying since 2007, when it began to ramp up its K Street efforts, and shelled out $1.22 million in 2014 alone.

Gustafson will join a lobbying department run by Cynthia Hogan, a former White House counsel for the Obama administration who also worked with Joe Biden as a staffer on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Hogan was hired in September 2014 as the NFL was being widely criticized for its handling of former Baltimore running back Ray Rice’s domestic violence case.

Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, chairman of the House oversight committee, said after this year’s Super Bowl that he plans to call NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell before Congress to justify the league’s nonprofit status. Slate’s Jordan Weissmann has written previously that the NFL should be taxed; Weissmann writes that while declaring the league office a for-profit endeavor would likely raise a negligible amount of revenue, its current status “makes a mockery of the entire concept behind nonprofits.”