Daniel Snyder denies Congress’ request to appear at the hearing


Daniel Snyder denies Congress' request to appear at the hearing

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Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder told the House Committee on Oversight and Reform that he would not be attending a hearing about the team’s workplace issues next week as requested.

Snyder responded to the committee’s request in a four-page letter from his attorney Wednesday. This comes after more than a week of deliberations following the committee’s deadline for a response from Snyder and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

The hearing is scheduled for June 22 at 10 a.m. on Capitol Hill.

“[G]Given the Committee’s refusal to comply with my request to postpone the hearing and its unwillingness to recognize Mr Snyder’s interests in a manner consistent with fundamental fairness and due process, Mr Snyder is unable to attend the hearing which the committee scheduled for June 22, 2022,” attorney Karen Patton Seymour wrote in the letter.

“Mr. Snyder, along with Mrs. Snyder and the team, remain fully prepared to work with the Committee on all other matters, including further discussing the reasonable inquiries regarding his possible appearance and providing information to the Committee on the notable changes , made by the Commanders to enhance and broaden the experience of all Commander staff.”

It remains unclear whether Goodell responded to the committee’s request. Several people familiar with the situation have said they expect Goodell to testify.

“The committee intends to advance this hearing,” said a spokesman for the committee. “We are currently reviewing Mr. Snyder’s letter and will respond.”

The NFL did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, attorneys representing more than 40 former team members, asked the committee to issue a subpoena to compel Snyder’s testimony.

“We, along with our clients, are disappointed but not surprised that Dan Snyder does not have the courage to attend voluntarily,” Banks and Katz said in a statement. “We understand the committee will issue a subpoena to compel Mr. Snyder to appear. It’s time Mr. Snyder knew he wasn’t above the law.”

Wednesday’s letter from Snyder’s attorney was addressed to Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (DN.Y.), chair of the committee, and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), chair of the Economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee .

In the letter, Snyder’s attorney wrote, “Although the committee indicated that the hearing would “focus” on historical workplace culture issues, I was informed that the committee would make no assurances that the questions put to Mr. Snyder would be limited would ask questions on these issues beyond those identified by the Committee, given the wide latitude afforded to members.”

Seymour cited a “long-standing Commanders-related business conflict” for Snyder and his plans to be out of the country on the June 22 hearing date; and concerns about “fundamental notions of fairness and due process,” given the committee’s refusal to honor requests for additional information and documents, which Snyder’s attorney listed in a June 6 letter to the committee’s attorney and at a follow-up meeting next had discussed day.

The letter references the information Snyder’s attorney requested when considering whether to attend the hearing. It contains the materials and issues he should address; Assurance that questions would be limited to “the historical issues of workplace culture” within the team; the “identity of all other witnesses who testified about the team and/or [Snyder]whether any witnesses have made allegations against the team and/or [Snyder], and the content of such allegations”; and copies of documents on which committee members wish to question Snyder, which Seymour wrote is “a courtesy I understand often accorded to witnesses at congressional hearings.”

Seymour wrote: “It violates fundamental notions of fairness and due process to refuse to provide such basic information as would enable a witness to defend himself or even respond fully during a public hearing, particularly in light of an ongoing investigation that has… deal with similar allegations.”

Seymour also wrote that the committee “would not consider my offer to propose another knowledgeable witness” to attend next week’s hearing on behalf of the team.

The committee addressed its inquiries to Snyder and Goodell in separate letters sent June 1 by Maloney and Krishnamoorthi. In these letters, the committee requested responses by June 6th.

A spokesman for the committee said last week that the committee is “in communication” with the NFL and the Commanders.

Daniel Snyder and Roger Goodell applied to appear at the congressional hearing

The June 1 committee letters said the hearing “will address the Washington Commanders’ toxic work culture and the National Football League’s (NFL) handling of this matter. It will also examine the NFL’s role in setting and enforcing standards across the league, which serves as a leading example for other American workplaces.”

The committee’s investigation also uncovered allegations of financial irregularities involving the team and Snyder.

Republicans on the committee have criticized the Democrats’ investigation of the team’s workplace as a misuse of the committee’s time and resources amid more pressing national concerns. Democrats have responded that the issues being studied in this case apply to other workplaces as well.

“The hearing will help inform legislative efforts to strengthen worker protections in all workplaces, including legislative efforts to prevent and combat toxic work environments and workplace investigations; strengthening the protection of women in the workplace; and to address the use of non-disclosure agreements to prevent disclosure of unlawful employment practices, including sexual harassment,” Maloney and Krishnamoorthi wrote in the letters to Goodell and Snyder.

Tiffani Johnston, a former cheerleader and marketing manager for the team, told the committee during a Feb. 3 congressional roundtable that Snyder molested her at a team dinner by placing his hand on her thigh and pushing her toward his limousine. She was one of six former employees who appeared at the roundtable to share their experiences of working for the team.

Snyder called the allegations leveled directly at him “utter lies.”

The NFL is conducting its second investigation of the team. This review is being led by Attorney Mary Jo White, a former US Attorney for the Southern District of New York and former Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The NFL has announced it will release the results of White’s investigation.

Following an earlier investigation by attorney Beth Wilkinson into allegations of sexual harassment within the organization, the NFL announced in July 2021 that the team had been fined $10 million and that Snyder’s wife, Tanya, the co-CEO of the Teams that would assume responsibility for overseeing the franchise would run day-to-day operations indefinitely.

Several owners said at last month’s quarterly league meeting that if the recent allegations are substantiated by White’s investigation, they would support a significant sentence for Snyder to be imposed by the NFL, potentially a substantial suspension. Several owners said they were not aware of any efforts to determine the level of support to remove Snyder from his team’s ownership. Such a move would require 24 votes among the 32 NFL teams.

Some NFL owners support a “hard suspension” and are wary of ousting Snyder

The allegations of financial irregularities were detailed in a 20-page letter sent by the committee to the Federal Trade Commission in April. That letter detailed the allegations by Jason Friedman, a former vice president of sales and customer service who had worked for the team for 24 years. According to the letter, Friedman accused the team of withholding up to $5 million in refundable deposits from season ticket holders and also hiding money to be shared among NFL owners.

The commanders denied committing any financial irregularities. A lawyer for the team wrote in a letter to the FTC that the allegations were “baseless” and claimed that “no investigation is warranted.”

The FTC has not commented on its response to the committee’s request for an investigation, other than acknowledging receipt of the committee’s letter.

The offices of Attorneys General Jason S. Miyares (R) of Virginia and Karl A. Racine (D) of the District of Columbia have announced they are conducting their own investigations.

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