Panel finds Daniel Snyder intervened in sexual harassment investigation

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Panel finds Daniel Snyder intervened in sexual harassment investigation

When the NFL investigated his team for widespread workplace misconduct, Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder led a “shadow investigation” to disrupt and undermine the findings, a congressional committee found.

At Snyder’s behest, his legal team used private investigators to harass and intimidate witnesses and produced a 100-page dossier aimed at victims, witnesses and journalists who had made “credible public allegations of harassment” against the team.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Wednesday released a 29-page memo detailing the findings of its eight-month investigation into how the Commanders and the NFL have dealt with allegations of rampant sexual harassment of the team’s female employees. The report came ahead of a hearing at which the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, was due to appear and face questioning. Snyder denied two appearance requests, citing a “longstanding business conflict.”

Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, a New York Democrat who chaired the committee, wrote that the investigation uncovered evidence that Snyder had attempted to discredit those who made allegations against the team and “an exculpatory narrative.” to establish that Snyder was not at fault for the misconduct alleged to have taken place from 2006 to 2019, almost the entire tenure of his ownership.

To that end, Snyder and his attorneys also collected thousands of emails from Bruce Allen, who was a Commanders executive from 2009 to 2019, to blame Allen for creating a toxic work environment and thereby attempted to shut down the NFL investigation affect direct access to the league and Beth Wilkinson, the attorney who led the league’s report, according to the memo.

A Snyder representative said in a statement that the committee’s investigation was “preordained from the start” and claimed that the team addressed these workplace issues “years ago.”

The NFL was aware of Snyder’s actions, the memo said, “but took no meaningful steps to prevent them.” Wilkinson’s investigation prompted the league to issue Snyder with a $10 million team penalty and kick him out to step down from day-to-day operations of the club, but the NFL did not ask Wilkinson to produce a written report, a decision that has drawn scrutiny from both elected officials and former employees of the team involved in the investigation.

Goodell will tell the committee on Wednesday that the league had “compelling reasons” to limit the Wilkinson report to an oral briefing, namely to protect the confidentiality of its participants. “We have spoken openly and directly about the fact that for far too long the commander’s work culture has been not only unprofessional but toxic,” Goodell said in a prepared statement. He added that the team’s office had been “substantially transformed” and that it “does not bear any resemblance to the workplace described to this committee.”

The committee, which said it intended to both investigate the failures of the Commanders and the NFL and strengthen job protections for all employees, will present its findings at Wednesday’s hearing. The NFL launched a second investigation into the Commanders earlier this year in response to a new sexual harassment allegation implicating Snyder squarely in a February congressional roundtable. Goodell said the results of this investigation, which is being led by attorney Mary Jo White, will be made public.

The committee’s 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 Snyder refused to take action against a coach who allegedly groped a public relations officer and fired women workers who had consensual relationships with male football operations staff while the men kept their jobs.

In addition, the Washington Post reported that the Wilkinson investigation examined the confidential settlement of a 2009 allegation that Snyder groped an employee and asked for sex.

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