Sen. Cantwell Threatens Bill Over Redskins Name

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D- Wash.) says she is introducing a bill to eliminate the NFL's tax-exempt status because the league hasn't taken action to get the Washington Redskins to change its name.

"The NFL continues to enjoy its not-for-profit tax status granted by the federal government," Cantwell said Tuesday. "In the next few days, I will be dropping legislation to end that tax status. The NFL needs join the rest of America in the 21st century. We can no longer tolerate this attitude towards Native Americans. This is not about team tradition; it is about right and wrong."

Back in June, Cantwell cheered the Patent Office's decision to invalidate federal protection of the Redskins trademark, and has been one of strongest critics of the name, along with Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

She is the former chair of the Indian Affairs Committee, which she joined in 2001. Cantwell has 29 federally recognized tribes in her state and has led efforts to provide more flexibility to tribal governments to lease reservation land and create businesses.

Also Tuesday, the Change the Mascot campaign, led by various Indian tribes and supporters, said that it is sending letters to all the NFL team owners calling on them to "demand" that the Washington Redskins drop the "R-word dictionary slur" and change the team name.

Among those supporting the group at a Capitol Hill press conference Tuesday were Cantwel, who announced the new bill, and Reps. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), and Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), as well as NAACP senior VP Hilary Shelton and Leadership Council on Civil and Human Rights executive VP Nancy Zirkin.

There has been plenty of activity in Washington on the Redskins name front, including a petition to deny a radio station owned by Redskins owner Dan Snyder, letters from a host of Democratic senators calling for the name change, and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel's expressions of concern over the name.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.