In advance of the Republican Party taking control in the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform released a report on Thursday detailing their findings following a year-long investigation into the workplace culture of the Washington Commanders, owner Daniel Snyder’s role in facilitating that culture, and the NFL’s role and record in setting and enforcing league workplace standards.
Many of the details in the report, “Conduct Detrimental: How the NFL and Washington Commanders Covered Up Decades of Sexual Misconduct,” aren’t new, but the toxic nature of what apparently went on in Washington since Snyder purchased the team in 1999 has not gotten any prettier with age. Here, straight from the committee, are some lowlights from the report.
- “The Committee’s February 3, 2022, roundtable revealed allegations that Mr. Snyder inappropriately touched former employee Tiffani Johnston at a work dinner and attempted to ‘aggressively push’ her into his limousine until he was stopped by onlookers.”
- “Brad Baker, a former video production employee, described how team executives ‘tasked us with producing a video for Snyder of sexually suggestive footage of cheerleaders, obviously unbeknownst to any of the women involved.’”
- “Melanie Coburn, a former cheerleader and marketing employee, stated: ‘At cheerleader auditions one year, Mr. Snyder ordered the director of the squad to parade the ladies onto the field while he and his friends gawked from his suite through binoculars.’”
- “The Committee found that Mr. Snyder abused the subpoena power of federal courts on at least ten separate occasions by filing a defamation lawsuit against an obscure media company in India in order to obtain private emails and communications from his perceived detractors in the United States, including former employees who spoke out about sexual misconduct at the Commanders.”
- “New evidence shows that in February 2021, lawyers for Mr. Snyder ‘offered financial compensation’ to former employees ‘who did not have live legal claims, but who had been vocal in their criticisms of the Team in order to secure additional non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and keep them from talking further.’”
- “New evidence uncovered by the Committee shows that the NFL was repeatedly notified that Mr. Snyder continued to use private investigators even after the League instructed him to stop “investigating any of these matters” in August 2020. In April 2021, Bruce Allen notified the NFL that Mr. Snyder had sent private investigators to his home, and in September 2021 an attorney representing Brad Baker informed the NFL that private investigators had contacted her client’s friends and family members.”
- “A senior NFL [counsel] admitted in a private communication with Mr. Allen more than a year ago that Mr. Snyder’s shadow investigation and abuse of federal courts violated NFL policy. Mr. Allen testified that around April 2021, he notified NFL’s counsel that Mr. Snyder had used emails from his Commanders email account in a federal court action. In response, [the NFL attorney] acknowledged that Mr. Snyder’s action was ‘conduct detrimental’ to the integrity of the League.”
“Our report tells the story of a team rife with sexual harassment and misconduct, a billionaire owner intent on deflecting blame and an influential organization that chose to cover this up rather than seek accountability and stand up for employees,” said Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, chairwoman of the committee. “To powerful industries across the country, this report should serve as a wake-up call that the time of covering up misconduct to protect powerful executives is over.”
Following the release of the report, John Brownlee and Stuart Nash, counsel for the Washington Commanders, emailed a statement to numerous media outlets, including InsideHook. “These Congressional investigators demonstrated, almost immediately, that they were not interested in the truth, and were only interested in chasing headlines by pursuing one side of the story. Today’s report is the predictable culmination of that one-sided approach,” the statement read in part. “Today’s report does not advance public knowledge of the Washington Commanders workplace in any way. The team is proud of the progress it has made in recent years in establishing a welcoming and inclusive workplace, and it looks forward to future success, both on and off the field.”
According to ProFootballTalk, a GOP version of the House Oversight Committee report is forthcoming. Per PFT, the Republican version of the report accuses the committee of investigating the Commanders to force Snyder to sell the team and get Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in as the owner of Washington’s football team, a scenario which has been theorized about before.
“Committee Democrats’ investigation has had one goal since its inception: force Team owner Dan Snyder to give up the Team,” the GOP report states, according to PFT. “In the last month, as news organizations reported that the Snyder family was working with a financial institution to consider possible financial transactions related to the Team, including its possible sale, a long-running theory about what could have prompted Committee Democrats’ investigation was given more credence. Within hours of the news breaking of a possible future sale, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was reported to be interested in purchasing the team; Bezos has long been rumored to be interested in purchasing the team. Bezos is also the owner of The Washington Post, whose negative coverage of Dan Snyder has been a key driver of Committee Democrats’ investigation. Given the targeted, predetermined nature of Committee Democrats’ investigation of the Team and its owner, it appears that the entire effort may have had as its goal the removal of an unfavored owner and the installation of the owner of a left-leaning newspaper sympathetic to the Democratic party.”
It’s a shame the Commanders aren’t playing Thursday Night Football as it would be very entertaining to hear Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit tap dance around what has to be a sensitive subject given that the NFL is implicated in enabling Snyder. Instead, Washington is on their bye week. They’ll return in primetime in Week 15 against the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football. Who knows how this story will have developed by then?