NFL execs invited these 45 congressional staffers to the 2023 Draft with all expenses paid

NFL execs invited these 45 congressional staffers to the 2023 Draft with all expenses paid
Image via Creative Commons.

The National Football League invited at least 45 congressional staffers — including six for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy — to attend an expenses-paid junket to the 2023 NFL Draft, according to new congressional documents reviewed by Raw Story.

The number of invites is significantly larger than what was previously known. Last week, Raw Story reported that the NFL brought about a dozen congressional staff members to Kansas City on April 27 for what the league called a “Government Affairs Congressional Forum.”

The agenda for the forum included NFL executives speaking on topics such as taxpayer financing of stadiums, player health, gambling, and diversity.

It was an unusual, if not unprecedented, event put on by the NFL, and came at a time when the world’s richest sports league is under increasing scrutiny by Congress.

Since 2010, the NFL had never hosted congressional staffers for an expenses-paid, out-of-town trip, according to a database of required disclosure reports submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ethics.

Neither Katie Hill, the NFL’s senior vice president for communication and public relations, nor Brendon Plack, the NFL’s senior vice president for public policy and government affairs, responded immediately to requests for comment.

The NFL’s 45 invitations to attend the forum included six staffers for McCarthy (R-CA), three staffers for House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA), and four staffers for House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).

It is not immediately clear how many of the 45 congressional invitees attended. If all attended, the NFL would have spent well into the five-figure range for the staffers airfare, lodging and meals, based on the costs incurred by known attendees.

Attendees included Brandon Casey, staff director of the House Ways and Means Committee, according to an attendance list included with the recent filings. Confirmed attendees, who filed reports, included David Brewer, deputy staff director of the House Judiciary Committee.

Other confirmed attendees, according to federal records, include:

  • Hayden Haynes, chief of staff for Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA).
  • Billy Constangy, leadership chief of staff for Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC).
  • Rachel Harris, chief of staff for Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ).
  • Sally Chen, senior member services adviser for the New Democrat Coalition.
  • Eric Heighberger, oversight director of the House Homeland Security Committee.
  • Tyler Grimm, chief counsel for policy and strategy for the House Judiciary Committee.
  • Dante Cutrona, chief of staff for Rep. John Joyce (R-PA).
  • James Bernhard, deputy chief of staff for Rep. Troy Carter (D-LA).

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