House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney accused in a Wednesday hearing that Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder ‘himself fostered’ the team’s ‘toxic workplace’ football, then “conducted a shadow investigation to target his accusers, shift blame to others, and influence the NFL’s own internal review.
Maloney said Snyder “fired women but not men who had relationships with other employees, while defending male executives accused of sexual harassment,” according to testimony from former senior team executives during the interview. the panel’s eight-month survey of commanders’ culture and the NFL’s response.
The New York Democrat said Snyder sent private investigators to the homes of former cheerleaders, “offered silent money to buy their silence,” created a “dossier” of reporters’ communications, lawyers and former employees who had accused the team of harassment and tried to blame former team president Bruce Allen for the team’s problems.
“The NFL knew about his actions but failed to stop him,” Maloney said.
Snyder declined to testify at the hearing, but Maloney announced that she intended to issue a subpoena to compel her testimony next week. A spokesperson for Snyder said the hearing was “little more than a politically charged show trial, not to find out the truth.”
“It is clear that the outcome of the House Oversight Committee’s investigation into Washington’s commanders was predetermined from the start,” Snyder’s spokesperson said.
Last year, after an internal investigation by attorney Beth Wilkinson, the National Football League fined the team $10 million and Snyder handed control of day-to-day operations of the franchise to his wife. , Tanya. But the NFL declined to release its findings, triggering the House Oversight Committee’s review in October.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell testified before the panel on Wednesday and said the culture of commanders has been “not only unprofessional, but toxic for far too long.”
“It is clear to me that the workplace in Washington was unprofessional and unacceptable in many ways: bullying, general disrespect for co-workers, use of demeaning language, public embarrassment and harassment,” said Goodell. “Furthermore, for an extended period of time, commanders have had a woefully deficient HR function, particularly with respect to reporting practices and record keeping.”
But Goodell argued that the commanders’ workplace had changed for the better and that Snyder “faced unprecedented discipline,” including the fine. He said Snyder hadn’t attended league or committee meetings in the past year, and he noted that COs had put in place “an entirely new, highly skilled and diverse leadership team.” and “revamped” their cheerleading schedule and leadership with a co-ed dance crew. . In 2020, Commanders hired Ron Rivera as their head football coach and Jason Wright as their team president.
Goodell also said the team did not receive a written report from Wilkinson to maintain the confidentiality of those who participated in the internal investigation, but may release a “summary of key findings” in the future “on optionally”. Illinois Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi suggested the NFL could release a detailed report with names redacted if necessary.
Republicans said Wednesday that the House Oversight Committee should have instead spent its time on more important national issues — like rising consumer prices, the baby formula shortage, the record number of illegal border crossings, the fentanyl overdoses or tanking the stock market – and focusing the investigation on the federal government rather than the private sector. Maloney said the committee has the power to investigate ‘anything and everything,’ prompting at least one Republican member to say he’ll remember it next year when the GOP is favored to take over the House.
“This committee is failing the American people,” said Kentucky Rep. Jim Comer, the panel’s top Republican.
Maloney disagreed, noting that six state attorneys general told the NFL in April of their “serious concerns” about allegations of workplace harassment of women and minorities and that the NFL had opened a new investigation based on the committee’s work.
The NFL has hired former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Jo White to investigate an allegation of sexual harassment against Snyder by former employee Tiffani Johnston, a former cheerleader and team marketing manager. Johnston told the congressional committee that the Commanders owner put his hand on her leg under the table during a working dinner and tried to persuade her to get into his limo. Snyder denied Johnston’s allegations.
“Some have argued that the protection of women does not deserve the time of this committee. I strongly disagree,” Maloney said. “For more than two decades, Dan Snyder refused to protect the women who worked for him from the toxic culture he created. The NFL also failed to protect those women. Now, I believe it is up to Congress to protect them and millions more like them.
Maloney said she introduced two bills to “ensure employers like Dan Snyder can’t abuse nondisclosure agreements to silence employees — and can’t film their employees” and use the footage without their consent. Goodell said he supports the intent of the bills.
“In concept, we certainly support it, and we’d be happy to work with your staff,” Goodell said.
Snyder had been invited to appear before the panel on Wednesday but was out of the country, according to Maloney.
“We also invited Daniel Snyder to testify today. But rather than come forward and take responsibility for his actions, he chose to leave town,” Maloney said. “Apparently Mr. Snyder is in France, where he moored his luxury yacht near a seaside resort.That should tell you how much he respects women in the workplace.
Snyder’s attorney, Karen Patton Seymour, said the Commanders owner was willing to cooperate but the committee was not ‘willing to consider changing the hearing date,’ according to the four-page letter obtained. by CNN.
“The committee also said it was unwilling to consider changing the hearing date, despite the fact that Mr. Snyder has a long-standing business dispute related to commanders and is at the outside the country on the first and only date proposed by the committee. for the hearing,” the letter reads. “The committee instead insisted on a yes or no answer from Mr. Snyder as to whether he would appear for the hearing at the appointed time.”
Asked by Maloney what “specific steps” the NFL would take to hold Snyder accountable for not testifying, Goodell said, “I have no responsibility for his appearance before Congress. It’s not my choice. It’s his choice. »
Correction: An earlier version of this story gave the wrong day for remarks made by House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney. It was Wednesday.