House Committee: Commanders' Daniel Snyder Provided 'Misleading' Testimony in Probe

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVDecember 8, 2022

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 2: Washington Commanders owners Dan Snyder on the field before the Dallas Cowboys defeat of the Washington Commanders  25-10 at AT&T Stadium on October 2, 2022 in Arlington, TX. (Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform released a 79-page report on Thursday following an investigation into the Washington Commanders' organizational and workplace culture.

Per Mark Maske, Liz Clarke and Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post, the report said that "Commanders owner Daniel Snyder evaded questions by saying more than 100 times that he did not know or could not recall information and gave 'misleading' answers when he testified remotely in July."

It was difficult to even reach terms for Snyder to participate in the testimony considering he initially declined the invitation to do so in person at a June 22 hearing. His attorney also refused to accept the electronic service of a subpoena.

"Over the last year, Mr. Snyder engaged in a series of attempts to interfere with the Committee's investigation," the report said. "Mr. Snyder publicly assailed witnesses, refused to release former employees from their confidentiality obligations, and blocked the Committee's access to tens of thousands of documents collected during the Wilkinson Investigation."

The investigation concluded that Snyder "permitted and participated" in a toxic workplace environment that harmed dozens of employees.

Jhabvala tweeted a statement in response from the Commanders' attorneys:

Nicki Jhabvala @NickiJhabvala

Statement from the Commanders attorneys on the report from the House Committee: <a href="https://t.co/i0gASX8vXJ">pic.twitter.com/i0gASX8vXJ</a>

The investigation started in the aftermath of emails between former Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and former Washington team president Bruce Allen becoming public.

Gruden resigned because the emails revealed he used racist, anti-gay and misogynistic language, although the Washington Post noted he also filed a lawsuit against the NFL and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell accusing them of leaking the correspondences in an effort to "publicly sabotage Gruden's career."

Thursday's report revealed Allen testified that a league official said the Commanders "leaked" the emails. Allen also said Snyder discussed using private investigators to look into Goodell.

Seth Wickersham, Don Van Natta Jr. and Tisha Thompson of ESPN reported in October that Snyder used investigators to look into fellow team owners and Goodell and said he has enough information to "blow up" some of his colleagues.

This all comes after Washington hired attorney Beth Wilkinson in 2020 to investigate the organization's workplace culture. The NFL took over the investigation, which never produced a written report, and eventually issued the Commanders a $10 million fine and said Tanya Snyder, who is Daniel's wife, would take over day-to-day operations of the franchise.

Wilkinson's investigation determined there was a culture of sexual harassment, bullying and more misconduct.

Yet Thursday's report, which was titled Conduct Detrimental: How the NFL and the Washington Commanders Covered Up Decades of Sexual Misconduct, said "the Commanders paid half of the $10 million penalty directly to charitable organizations … This payment structure may have allowed the Team to take tax deductions for its charitable contributions and payments to the League, thereby conferring the Commanders a benefit."

The report also said the NFL did not "address Mr. Snyder's interferences" in Wilkinson's investigation and helped cover up the Commanders' workplace environment.

According to Ken Belson and Katherine Rosman of the New York Times, Snyder "went to extraordinary lengths to stall investigations."

Per that report, Snyder's efforts included an "attempt to pay former employees 'hush money' to not discuss their experiences, the refusal to release one woman from her nondisclosure agreement after she settled a sexual misconduct claim against Snyder for $1.6 million, and the use of private investigators and leaked emails to intimidate former employees from participating in interviews."

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform was not the only investigatory body looking into Snyder and the Commanders.

As the Washington Post noted, there was a settlement reached after Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh fined the Commanders $250,000 for withholding security deposits from ticket holders.

What's more, D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine's office filed two civil lawsuits against the NFC East team, with one alleging it created "an illegal scheme to cheat District ticket holders out of their deposits" and the other suggesting the Commanders lied to fans about the workplace culture and the investigation into it.

The Eastern District of Virginia has interviewed people regarding allegations of financial improprieties, and attorney Mary Jo White is conducting a second investigation that Don Van Natta Jr. of ESPN noted is looking into an allegation that Snyder sexually assaulted a woman on his plane in 2009.

It remains to be seen whether Snyder will eventually sell the team, but the Commanders released a statement in November that said they retained Bank of America Securities to "consider potential transactions."