K&L Gates: We Did No Washington Lobbying on Behalf of WWE in 2009

Jerry McDevitt, Pittsburgh-based partner of the law firm K&L Gates – which both is a legal counsel for World Wrestling Entertainment and was one of its registered Washington lobbyists – has responded to my email to him yesterday requesting further information on WWE federal lobbying efforts in 2009. (See yesterday’s item on this blog, “Did Linda McMahon’s WWE Do No Federal Lobbying in 2009 – Or Just Not Report Any?”)

McDevitt wrote in part, “We filed two quarterly reports – for the first and second quarters – in 2009. We also reported the termination of the registration in the second quarter, and thus there are no subsequent reports. In both we reported no lobbying activity, which should be of assistance for those who, like you, have a hard time understanding what zero means.”

McDevitt said that questions about WWE’s other registered lobbyist, APCO Worldwide, would have to be directed to that firm itself.

I say McDevitt “wrote in part” because the second half of his message to me challenged my December 14 post, “EXCLUSIVE: Linda McMahon’s WWE Medical Director Met With Chris Benoit Brain Experts in 2008.”

I will dedicate future posts to a full airing of this controversy and to the history of my dealings with Jerry McDevitt during the research for my book CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death. I also will reproduce the copy McDevitt provided to me of his letter yesterday to West Virginia neurosurgeon and brain researcher Dr.  Julian Bailes. That letter, in turn, attaches a copy of McDevitt’s September 25, 2007, letter to Chris Nowinski, the former WWE wrestler who started the Massachusetts-based Sports Legacy Institute. (The Nowinski group,  incidentally, was featured in the most recent edition of the HBO program Real Sports.)

In a nutshell, my report last month disclosed that WWE’s own medical director, Dr. Joseph Maroon, met in 2008 with directors of Bailes’ West Virginia brain institute, including Dr. Bennett Omalu, who previously had been affiliated with Nowinski’s organization. Maroon was solicited for comment but did not respond.

I wrote that WWE’s statement to ESPN — “WWE has been asking to see the research and test results in the case of Mr. Benoit for years and has not been supplied with them” (emphasis added)  — was “grossly, and characteristically, misleading” and that the background “reveals that ‘lie’ may not be too strong a word.”

McDevitt, for his part, says my report itself is a lie.

Readers, I think, are capable of reading the whole record and resolving this dispute for themselves.

More soon. The power is out here at home during storms in Northern California, and it is hard to post stuff today as rapidly as I would like.

Irv Muchnick

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