Congress Alleges ‘Shadow’ Investigation by Commanders Owner Snyder | Thread
By BEN NUCKOLS – AP Sports Writer
Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder conducted a ‘shadow investigation’ that sought to discredit former employees accusing of workplace sexual harassment, hired private investigators to intimidate witnesses and used an overseas lawsuit as a pretext to obtain phone records and emails, according to a document. released by a House committee on Wednesday.
The Oversight and Reform Committee is investigating the work culture of COs following accusations of widespread sexual harassment by team executives of female employees. He released the memo ahead of a Wednesday hearing in Washington that included testimony from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, appearing remotely from New York.
Snyder was asked to testify but declined, citing overseas business commitments and due process concerns. Committee chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney, DN.Y., announced during the hearing that she plans to issue a subpoena to compel Snyder to testify next week.
The 29 page memo alleges that Snyder attempted to discredit those accusing him and other team executives of misconduct and also attempted to influence an investigation into the team conducted for the NFL by the firm of the attorney Beth Wilkinson.
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Snyder’s attorneys presented the NFL with a 100-slide PowerPoint presentation that included “private text messages, emails, phone logs and call transcripts, and social media posts from nearly 50 people who, according to Mr. Snyder, were apparently involved in a conspiracy to disparage him.” said the committee.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Snyder called the report and hearing a “politically charged show trial” and said Congress should not investigate “a matter that a football team addressed a long time ago. years old”.
Goodell told the committee that the team’s culture had transformed as a result of the Wilkinson investigation and that “Dan Snyder was held accountable.” Asked by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., if he would remove Snyder as owner, Goodell said, “I don’t have the authority to remove him.”
An NFL owner can only be removed by a three-fourths majority vote of the other owners.
The NFL fined the team $10 million last year and Snyder stepped down from day-to-day operations after Wilkinson presented his findings to Goodell. However, the league has not released a written report on Wilkinson’s findings, a move Goodell said was intended to protect the privacy of former employees who spoke to investigators.
Attorneys Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, who represent more than 40 former team employees, again called on Goodell to release a report of the Wilkinson investigation, calling it “astounding and disheartening” to hear him say that Snyder was held responsible.
“Today the committee released a damning report demonstrating that Snyder and his attorneys also monitored and investigated plaintiffs, their attorneys, witnesses, and reporters, which Goodell knew and did nothing,” the statement said. Banks and Katz in a statement.
When announcing the sanction against Snyder, the NFL said none of those accused of sexual harassment still worked for the Washington franchise. But two separate accusations of sexual harassment by Snyder himself have since surfaced.
Former employee Tiffani Johnston told the committee that Snyder groped her at a team dinner and tried to force her into his limo, which Snyder denies. And The Washington Post reported On Tuesday, a woman accused Snyder of sexually assaulting her on a team plane in 2009, resulting in a $1.6 million settlement.
Goodell acknowledged Wednesday that he was aware of the 2009 allegation and that Snyder did not notify 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 into Snyder and the team, and the league plans to make its findings public.
Maloney has introduced legislation to limit the use of nondisclosure agreements in the workplace and to provide protections for employees whose professional images are used inappropriately. Among the charges against the commanders are that team employees produced a video of obscene shots during a photo shoot involving the cheerleading team.
According to the memo, Snyder used a defamation lawsuit against an obscure India-based online media company as a pretext to subpoena emails, phone records and text messages from former employees who spoke to the Washington. Workplace harassment post. The subpoenas were unusually broad and many of those targeted “had no plausible connection” to the Indian media company, the committee said.
The committee also alleged that Snyder sought to blame former team president Bruce Allen for problems with Washington’s work culture and that Snyder’s lawyers provided Wilkinson and the NFL with 400,000 emails from the Allen’s account, highlighting those they deemed “inappropriate”. Some email exchanges with Allen included homophobic and misogynistic comments by Jon Gruden, which leaked to reporters last fall and prompted the Las Vegas Raiders to fire Gruden as coach.
Witnesses also told the committee that Snyder sent private investigators to their home and offered them silent money. 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 firing of two female employees for having sex with a player and a coach. He also said the men involved were undisciplined.
Republicans on the committee accused Democrats of suing an NFL team to distract from more pressing issues and overstep the scope of the committee’s mission.
“A key responsibility of this committee is to oversee the executive branch, but all this Congress, the Democrats have turned a blind eye to the Biden administration,” said Kentucky GOP Rep. James Comer, a member of the committee. “Instead, the Oversight Committee is investigating a single private organization for malpractice that occurred years ago.”
Asked by Rep. Ralph Norman, RS.C. what authority the committee had to investigate an NFL team, Maloney replied, “We have the authority to investigate anything and everything.”
“Anything and everything,” Norman said. “It’s a total embarrassment.”
Maloney attempted to clarify that comment in his closing remarks, saying the committee was authorized “to investigate anything within the legislative power of Congress.”
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