The head of the Washington NFL team's new foundation for Native Americans also oversees an association that a 2012 government report said provided "no benefit" in exchange for almost $1 million in federal funds intended to help Native Americans.
Gary Edwards, a Cherokee and retired member of the U.S. Secret Service, was hired to run the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation, a charity created by team owner Daniel Snyder. The charity aims to assist Native Americans as Snyder continues to rebut criticism that his team's nickname is offensive.
"Even though I am a Vikings fan, I hope Dan Snyder does more background research on his team's potential draft picks than it appears he did on his foundation's CEO," U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), a co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus, told USA TODAY Sports.
Edwards is CEO of the National Native American Law Enforcement Association (NNALEA), a nonprofit whose contract with the Bureau of Indian Affairs was scrutinized in a report by the federal Office of Inspector General. The May 2012 report said that the NNALEA took advantage of the government in a contract that called for the NNALEA to help recruit "critically needed" law enforcement officers to work in Indian Country.
The government "received no benefit when they awarded a recruitment services contract to NNALEA, thus wasting almost $1 million," the report states.
The report says the NNALEA provided the government with 748 applications, "none of which were of use to" the Office of Justice Services, the report states.
The government reviewed 514 of the applications for various requirements. Of those, the report states that 104 of the applicants were too old or too young.
The report does not mention Edwards by name, but instead refers to him as NNALEA's CEO.
"NNALEA's CEO stated that he would focus his recruitment efforts in Indian Country," the report stated. "We found that recruitment in Indian Country was ineffective, with only 22 of 514 applicants (or about 4 percent) having Indian preference."
The report mostly blames the government's Bureau of Indian Affairs, saying management failures led to a "poorly written contract… developed in conjunction with the NNALEA."
In a statement released on Thursday night by the football team, Edwards responded, "The NNALEA believes it met and exceeded all of its obligations under the contract with the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Office of Justice Services, and subsequently was paid after the contract was completed."
Team spokesman Tony Wyllie said the club had no additional comment. In a previous interview posted on the team's website, general manager Bruce Allen said, "We have the right leader in Gary Edwards."
Allen said Snyder introduced Edwards at the recent NFL meetings in Orlando and said Edwards received a rare round of applause from team owners.
Oneida Indian Nation representative Ray Halbritter criticized the hiring of Edwards.
"This is part of a disturbing – but sadly not surprising – pattern of behavior," Halbritter told USA TODAY Sports. "First Mr. Snyder insisted that a dictionary-defined racial slur is a way to honor Native Americans… and now he has hired a person who has financially harmed Native Americans to run a foundation to defend his team's name. These aren't accidents – this is a systemic campaign to denigrate Native Americans, orchestrated by a team owner who will stop at nothing to keep the team's name."
The report said that after government officials initially interviewed Edwards about the contract, he declined to be interviewed further on advice of counsel.
Among other findings in the report:
— ''When NNALEA's CEO proposed significant modifications to the statement of work, BIA officials simply accepted them in part because they said that they were under pressure to get the contract out."
— "NNALEA reported that it conducted an onsite recruiting event at the Crow Fair Celebration, held August 13-17, 2009. The contracting officer's technical representative, however, told us that they attended the Celebration and did not observe a NNALEA recruiting booth or representative in attendance."
— "NNALEA reported that it placed recruiting advertisements in the Aberdeen News, a news publication that is circulated in South Dakota, for October 11, 2009, and October 18, 2009. An Aberdeen News representative, however, told us that they had no record of NNALEA placing the advertisements."
To address the problems, the report recommended that the government's Bureau of Indian Affairs improve the management of its contracting program.
Contributing: Erik Brady
Follow Brent Schrotenboer on Twitter @Schrotenboer. E-mail: email@example.com