As the NFL investigated its team for widespread workplace misconduct, Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder led a “shadow investigation” to interfere and undermine its findings, a congressional committee found.
At Snyder’s request, his legal team used private investigators to harass and intimidate witnesses, and created a 100-page dossier targeting victims, witnesses and reporters who had shared “credible public accusations of harassment” against the team.
The House Committee on Oversight and Reform released a 29-page memo on Wednesday detailing the findings of its eight-month investigation into how commanders and the NFL handled allegations of rampant sexual harassment by female employees. ‘crew. The report preceded a hearing at which league commissioner Roger Goodell was due to appear and be questioned. Snyder declined two requests to appear, citing a “long-standing business dispute.”
Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York, chair of the committee, wrote that the investigation uncovered evidence that Snyder sought to discredit those who made claims against the team and create “an exculpatory narrative” that Snyder was not to blame. for the misconduct, which allegedly took place from 2006 to 2019, nearly the entire duration of his ownership.
To that end, Snyder and his attorneys also collected thousands of emails from Bruce Allen, who was a Commanders leader from 2009 to 2019, in an attempt to blame Allen for creating a toxic work environment, and sought to influence the NFL’s investigation through direct access to the league and Beth Wilkinson, the attorney who led the league’s report, according to the memo.
A representative for Snyder said in a statement that the committee’s investigation was “predetermined from the start” and claimed the team addressed these workplace issues “years ago.”
The NFL was aware of Snyder’s actions, the memo says, “but took no meaningful action to prevent them.” Wilkinson’s investigation led to the league imposing a $10 million team fine on Snyder and removing him from the club’s day-to-day operations, but the NFL did not ask Wilkinson to prepare a report. writing, a decision that caught the attention of both elected officials and former employees of the team who took part in the survey.
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Goodell will tell the committee on Wednesday that the league had “compelling reasons” for limiting the Wilkinson report to an oral briefing, namely to preserve the confidentiality of its participants. “We’ve been open and direct about the fact that the work culture among commanders has been not only unprofessional, but toxic for far too long,” Goodell said in prepared testimony. He added that there had been a “substantial transformation” of the team’s office and that it “bears no resemblance to the workplace that has been described to this committee”.
The committee, which has said its intention is both to examine the failings of commanders and the NFL and to strengthen workplace protections for all employees, will present its findings at Wednesday’s hearing. The NFL opened a second investigation into commanders earlier this year, in response to a new sexual harassment allegation that directly implicates Snyder during a congressional roundtable in February. Goodell said the findings of that investigation, led by attorney Mary Jo White, will be made public.
The committee memo also cites other examples of Snyder’s direct role in creating a workplace that Goodell said was marked by widespread disrespect and harassment. The team’s former chief operating officer told the committee that Snyder “refused to take action” against a coach who allegedly groped a public relations employee and fired female workers who engaged in consensual relationships with male employees of football operations, while the men kept their jobs.
Additionally, The Washington Post reported that Wilkinson’s investigation looked into the confidential 2009 settlement of a complaint that Snyder groped an employee and demanded sex.
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