Although the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform has been actively looking into the misconduct surrounding the Commanders franchise, it does not seem that every member is in agreement on the probe.
Republican James Comer of Kentucky questioned the motives and findings of the alleged financial improprieties in a letter to Democratic committee chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney.
“The primary mission of the House Oversight and Reform Committee is to root out waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement in the federal government,” Comer wrote. “Unfortunately, your so-called ‘investigation’ into the Washington Commanders lacks even any foundation for exercising congressional oversight authority.”
Comer called the investigation “reckless,” adding that former Washington sales executive Jason Friedman should either have the ability to amend his allegations or that the investigation should be handed over to the Department of Justice.
“Your reckless, ends-oriented investigation is an embarrassment to our Committee and a misuse of congressional oversight authority,” Comer wrote. “It is yet another example of Democrats exceeding the bounds of what is permissible for Congress to investigate. … Even if this investigation was conducted with balanced and proper fact finding, which it has not been, there is no recourse in the Oversight Committee for any of the allegedly aggrieved parties. This investigation is wasting valuable taxpayer resources—especially at a time when the American people are struggling with increasing inflation.”
Maloney responded to the letter, saying the committee’s investigation will continue.
Last week, the committee released a statement and a copy of its 20-page letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which asserted that Washington and co-owner Dan Snyder “may have engaged in a troubling, long-running, and potentially unlawful pattern of financial conduct that victimized thousands of team fans and the National Football League.”
The letter, a copy of which was sent to Sports Illustrated, included testimony from Friedman. Some of the instances cited are as follows.
- Alleged misappropriation of funds, specifically withholding customers’ security deposits on premium seating and using the money for other purposes, that totaled “approximately $5 million” from “around 2,000 accounts.”
- Ticket revenue, which is supposed to be shared with the league, was underreported. Friedman said “the team maintained ‘two sets of books’—one that was shared with the NFL but underreported certain ticket revenue, and another internal set of books that included the complete and accurate revenue and was ‘shown to Mr. Snyder.’”
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Here is more on the documents released by the committee, including details of the spreadsheet from Friedman, and how the former Washington sales executive said in his testimony that these financial practices began when things “started to get a little tougher for the team financially,” and noted they were encouraged by senior leadership, including Snyder.
Maloney said in a statement last week, “While the focus of our investigation remains the Commanders’ toxic work environment, I hope the FTC will review this troubling financial conduct and determine whether further action is necessary. We must have accountability.”
The Commanders have denied any financial impropriety since the allegations arose March 31. The franchise sent a 19-page letter to the FTC on Monday denying the allegations made by the committee, which Jordan W. Siev from the law firm Reed Smith signed. Siev not only denied the allegations but also called Friedman’s character and motives into question. Additionally, he said the committee never requested information about these allegations.
“The committee did not request a single document from the team; the committee did not invite a single representative of the team to address the truth of the matters contained in the committee’s letter; and the committee did not pose questions to the team to answer in writing about its allegations, or provide any mechanism whatsoever for the team to address the truth of the allegations,” the letter said. “Had the committee posed any of these questions or requests to the team, the team could — and would — easily and fully have rebutted each allegation.”
This is the second investigation into the franchise since allegations of sexual harassment in Washington’s workplace arose in summer 2020. The Washington Post released an article in July ’20 that detailed workplace sexual harassment experienced by 15 former women employees within the franchise. Snyder also faces several accounts of misconduct, some of which are as follows:
- The Post released another article in 2020 reporting that a former senior executive instructed employees to create a behind-the-scenes video for Snyder. The video included videos of partially naked team cheerleaders from an ’08 team swimsuit calendar shoot.
- The Post previously reported that “lawyers and private investigators working on Snyder’s behalf took steps that potential witnesses … viewed as attempts to interfere with the NFL’s investigation.” The numerous alleged attempts to interfere included reaching a $1.6 million settlement with a former employee who described sexual misconduct by the co-owner and filing petitions to identify employees who had spoken to the Post.
- Tiffani Johnston detailed during the roundtable multiple offensive moments, including a time when Snyder allegedly sexually harassed her. Snyder denied the allegations in a statement.
Lawmakers have continued to ask the NFL to release the full findings of its investigation. In February, documents released by the committee raised questions about whether the league’s probe into the Commanders was truly independent.
It was revealed that not only did Washington agree to a written report being created on lawyer Beth Wilkinson’s findings and recommendations, but the league would not be able to release the findings without permission of Snyder, according to the documents. Here is a summary of what was found in the documents.
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