Daniel Snyder declines to appear at congressional hearing on Commanders

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Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder informed the House Committee on Oversight and Reform that he will not appear at a hearing next week on the team’s workplace issues, as requested.

Snyder responded to the committee’s request in a four-page letter from his attorney dated Wednesday. That came after more than a week of deliberations beyond the deadline set by the committee for Snyder and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to respond.

The hearing is scheduled for June 22 at 10 a.m. on Capitol Hill.

It remains unclear whether Goodell has responded to the committee’s request. Multiple people familiar with the situation have said they expect Goodell to testify.

“The Committee intends to move forward with this hearing,” a spokesperson said. “We are currently reviewing Mr. Snyder’s letter and will respond.”

The committee made its requests to Snyder and Goodell in separate letters sent June 1 from Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), the committee’s chairwoman, and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), the chairman of the subcommittee on economic and consumer policy. In those letters, the committee asked for responses by June 6.

A committee spokesperson said last week that the committee was “in communication” with the NFL and the Commanders.

Daniel Snyder, Roger Goodell requested to appear at congressional hearing

The league and team said in separate statements that they would respond in a timely manner. The committee said it was requesting Goodell and Snyder to appear, rather than issuing subpoenas.

The committee’s June 1 letters said that the hearing “will address the Washington Commanders’ toxic workplace culture and the National Football League’s (NFL) handling of that matter. It will also examine the NFL’s role in setting and enforcing standards across the League, which serves as a leading example to other American workplaces.”

The committee’s investigation also uncovered allegations of financial improprieties involving the team and Snyder.

Republicans on the committee have criticized the Democrats’ examination of the team’s workplace as a misuse of the committee’s time and resources amid more pressing national concerns. The Democrats have responded that the issues being examined in this case apply to other workplaces.

“The hearing will help inform legislative efforts to strengthen protections for employees across all workplaces, including legislative efforts to prevent and address toxic work environments and workplace investigation processes; strengthen protections for women in the workplace; and address the use of nondisclosure agreements to prevent the disclosure of unlawful employment practices, including sexual harassment,” Maloney and Krishnamoorthi wrote in the letters to Goodell and Snyder.

Tiffani Johnston, a former cheerleader and marketing manager for the team, told the committee during a Feb. 3 congressional roundtable that Snyder harassed her at a team dinner, putting his hand on her thigh and pressing her toward his limo. She was among six former employees who appeared at the roundtable to speak about their experiences working for the team.

Snyder called the accusations made directly against him “outright lies.”

The NFL is conducting its second investigation of the team. This review is being led by attorney Mary Jo White, a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and the former chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The NFL has said it will make the findings of White’s investigation public.

Following an earlier investigation by attorney Beth Wilkinson of sexual harassment allegations within the organization, the NFL announced in July 2021 that the team had been fined $10 million and that Snyder’s wife, Tanya, the team’s co-CEO, would assume responsibility for overseeing the franchise’s daily operations for an unspecified period.

Several owners said at last month’s quarterly league meeting that, if the latest allegations are substantiated by White’s investigation, they would support a meaningful penalty for Snyder imposed by the NFL, perhaps a significant suspension. Multiple owners said they were not aware of any efforts to ascertain the level of support to remove Snyder from ownership of his team. Such a move would require 24 votes among the 32 NFL teams.

Some NFL owners support ‘tough suspension,’ wary of forcing out Snyder

The allegations of financial improprieties were detailed in a 20-page letter sent in April by the committee to the Federal Trade Commission. That letter detailed allegations made by Jason Friedman, a former vice president of sales and customer service who worked for the team for 24 years. According to the letter, Friedman accused the team of withholding as much as $5 million in refundable deposits from season ticket holders and also hiding money that was supposed to be shared among NFL owners.

The Commanders denied committing any financial improprieties. An attorney for the team wrote in a letter to the FTC that the allegations were “baseless” and asserted that “no investigation is warranted.”

The FTC has not commented on its response to the committee’s request for an investigation beyond acknowledging the receipt of the committee’s letter.

The offices of attorneys general Jason S. Miyares (R) of Virginia and Karl A. Racine (D) of the District of Columbia have announced they are conducting their own investigations.

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