Commanders Deny Financial Misconduct Allegations in Letter to FTC

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVApril 18, 2022

ASHBURN, VA - MARCH 17: A view of a Washington Commanders helmet on display during a press conference to introduce quarterback Carson Wentz at Inova Sports Performance Center on March 17, 2022 in Ashburn, Virginia. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The Washington Commanders sent a 22-page letter to the Federal Trade Commission on Monday denying claims of financial impropriety, according to ESPN's John Keim.

The team also attached 83 pages' worth of signed affidavits, emails and texts.

"I can state unequivocally that I never helped maintain, or saw anyone else maintain, a 'second set' of books,'" Paul Szczenski, the team's former director of finance, wrote in an affidavit.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform accused the Commanders of "potentially unlawful" financial conduct based on allegations from former employee Jason Friedman, per Mark Maske and Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post.

Friedman, who served as the team's vice president of sales and customer service, alleged the team had "two sets of books" and used one to underreport certain ticket revenue.

Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, Friedman's lawyers, responded to the Commanders' letter in a statement on Monday, via ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio:

“Mr. Friedman stands by his testimony, which was truthful and based on his experiences with the team. He is happy to answer follow-up questions from Congress, the FTC, or any government agency. My client is also prepared to defend himself publicly against these baseless allegations if Mr. Snyder permits him to do so. In the meantime, we will communicate directly with the team about these demonstratively false allegations.”

A.J. Perez of Front Office Sports explained that the Commanders allegedly withheld revenue that that is supposed to be shared with other NFL teams. Organizations are supposed to pass 40 percent of ticket sales to the league for redistribution.

Washington denied these allegations in a statement:

Scott Abraham @Scott7news

Here is the statement from the <a href="https://twitter.com/Commanders?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Commanders</a> in response to the ticket scheme report/allegation <a href="https://t.co/8QcKgzfcE5">pic.twitter.com/8QcKgzfcE5</a>

The most recent letter calls Friedman's claims "baseless" and "false and reckless."

Per Keim, it also portrayed Friedman as a disgruntled employee who was, until recently, looking to return to his role with the team after being fired in 2020.

The FTC said it has received the letter, but it has not said whether it will move forward with investigating the organization.