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December 30, 2013 10:49 AM Collateral Damage For Dan Snyder’s View

By Ed Kilgore

The National Football League franchise in (or actually, near) Washington, DC finished its 2013 season with a disappointing 3-13 record yesterday, after a 20-6 loss to the New York Giants. Today Coach Mike Shanahan was fired just a year after leading his team to a division championship.

If you asked the average fan of this much-storied football franchise what would be best for its future, I’d bet nine out of ten would vote for firing the owner, Dan Snyder, whose meddling and feckless ways have made him the epitome of the Bad Sports Owner.

As a contribution to the quiet but ongoing campaign to convince Snyder to take up another hobby, WaMo is proud to publish in our January-February issue a piece by MoJo’s Tim Murphy that reprises a famous off-field incident involving ol’ Dan. It’s his successful campaign to use political influence to get trees on federally managed land chopped down to liberate his view of the Potomac from his tony home in suburban Maryland—but this time, from the viewpoint of a dedicated park ranger who got in the way of Snyder and his friends in the Park Service and the Department of the Interior. Murphy’s reopening of this incident was motivated by:

[T]he settling last fall by the National Park Service (NPS) of a whistleblower complaint over a secret sweetheart deal Snyder extracted nine years ago to give his Maryland home an unobstructed view of the Potomac River. It was a small concession in the grand scheme of things, the kind that the rich and powerful frequently wheedle out of government, especially back then, during the presidency of George W. Bush, when such favors were flowing like booze in a skybox. But its discovery set off a decade-long campaign of bureaucratic retribution over two administrations that nearly sent an innocent man to prison. The story of that little favor wonderfully (if depressingly) encapsulates the essential character of our times, in which average people who play by the rules are made to suffer by the blithe manipulation of those rules by the people at the top.

The story has a relatively happy ending, but less for the park ranger involved than for Snyder, who got his view and still has his team. Check it out.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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