Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder performed a “shadow investigation”According to Wednesday’s House Committee document, the company hired private investigators in an attempt to undermine former employees who had made claims of sexual harassment at work. They also used an offshore lawsuit to get phone records.
The Committee on Oversight and Reform is investigating the Commanders’ workplace culture following accusations of pervasive sexual harassment by team executives of women employees. This memo was published ahead of Wednesday’s hearing in Washington. The hearing featured testimony from Roger Goodell from New York.
Snyder was invited to testify. However, she declined because of overseas business commitments as well as concerns regarding due process. Rep. Carolyn Maloney of D-N.Y. was the chairwoman of the committee and announced at hearing she would issue a subpoena for Snyder to take a deposition.
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The 29-page memo alleges Snyder tried to discredit the people accusing him and other team executives of misconduct and also tried to influence an investigation of the team conducted for the NFL by attorney Beth Wilkinson’s firm.
Snyder’s attorneys presented the NFL with a 100-slide PowerPoint presentation including “private text messages, emails, phone logs and call transcripts, and social media posts from nearly 50 individuals who Mr. Snyder apparently believed were involved in a conspiracy to disparage him,”According to the committee.
Snyder’s spokesman said that the hearing and report were described as “as” in a statement. “a politically charged show trial”And he said Congress shouldn’t be investigating “an issue a football team addressed years ago.”
Goodell told the committee that the team’s culture has transformed as a result of the Wilkinson probe and that “Dan Snyder has been held accountable.”Goodell responded to a question from Rep. Rashida Tlaib D-Mich. asking if Snyder would be removed as the owner. “I don’t have the authority to remove him.”
Only a majority of NFL owners can vote to remove an owner.
Snyder was forced to resign from the NFL’s day-to-day operations last year after Wilkinson reported her findings to Goodell. However, the league did not release a written report of Wilkinson’s findings, a decision Goodell said was intended to protect the privacy of former employees who spoke to investigators.
Debra Katz and Lisa Banks (an attorney representing over 40 team members) called again on Goodell for a Wilkinson investigation report to be released. “stunning and disheartening”To hear him state that Snyder is being held accountable.
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“Today, the committee released a damning report demonstrating that Snyder and his lawyers also surveilled and investigated complainants, their lawyers, witnesses and journalists, which Goodell knew about and did nothing to address,”Banks and Katz made the statement in a joint statement.
Snyder was disciplined by the NFL after it announced that the Washington franchise had fired all of its sexual harassment victims. However, Snyder has since been accused of two other forms of sexual harassment.
Tiffani Johnson, an ex-employe, claimed that Snyder tried to drag her in his limousine and groped it at a dinner party. Snyder has denied the allegations. The Washington Post also reported Tuesday that Snyder was accused of sexually assaulting a female passenger on board a plane with the team in 2009. This led to a settlement worth $1.6 million.
Goodell acknowledged Wednesday that he was aware of the 2009 allegation and that Snyder did not inform the league at the time, which is a violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
Johnston’s allegation prompted the NFL to hire former Securities and Exchange Commission chairwoman Mary Jo White to conduct a new investigation of Snyder and the team, and the league plans to release her findings to the public.
Maloney’s legislation aims to limit the use of workplace disclosure agreements and provide protections for employees who have their professional photos used in an unprofessional manner. One of the allegations against Maloney is that team members produced lewd outtakes during a photo shoot with the cheerleading group.
The memo states that Snyder used a lawsuit to defame an unknown online media company in India to subpoena email, phone records and texts messages of former employees who talked to The Washington Post regarding workplace harassment. These subpoenas had an unusually wide scope and were directed at many people. “had no plausible connection”The committee stated this to Indian media companies.
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The committee also alleged that Snyder sought to blame former team president Bruce Allen for the problems with Washington’s workplace culture and that Snyder’s lawyers provided Wilkinson and the NFL with 400,000 emails from Allen’s account, highlighting specific ones they deemed “inappropriate.” Some email exchanges with Allen included homophobic and misogynistic comments by Jon Gruden, which were leaked to reporters last fall and prompted Gruden’s resignation as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.
The committee was also informed by witnesses that Snyder had sent private investigators into their homes to offer them hush funds. The NFL was aware of Snyder’s use of private investigators, according to documents obtained by the committee, but the practice continued, witnesses said.
Another new allegation came from David Pauken, the team’s former chief operating officer, who told the committee in a deposition released Wednesday that Snyder directly ordered the firings of a female front-office employee for having a sexual relationship with a coach and two cheerleaders for having sex with a player. He said that the men involved weren’t disciplined.
Republicans on the committee accused Democrats of going after an NFL team to distract from more pressing issues and exceeding the scope of the committee’s mission.
“A core responsibility of this committee is to conduct oversight of the executive branch, but this entire Congress, Democrats have turned a blind eye to the Biden administration,” said Kentucky GOP Rep. James Comer, the committee’s ranking member. “Instead, the Oversight committee is investigating a single private organization for workplace misconduct that occurred years ago.”
Maloney replied to Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina, when he was asked what authority the committee had in investigating an NFL team. “We have authority to investigate anything and everything.”
“Anything and everything,”Norman spoke. “That’s a total embarrassment.”
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Maloney clarified that statement in her closing remarks. She stated that the committee had been authorized. “to investigate anything within Congress’ legislative power.”
Commanders coach Ron Rivera issued a statement late Wednesday night, distancing himself from the team’s past.
“These investigations into inappropriate workplace issues pre-dates my employment,”Rivera, who was appointed in 2020. “I cannot change the past, but I would hope that our fans, the NFL and Congress can see that we are doing everything in our power to never repeat those workplace issues. And know that our employees are respected, valued and can be heard.”
This article was written by The Associated Press
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