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Commanders’ Legal Team Calls Allegations ‘Implausible’ in Response to FTC

  • Commanders legal team calls allegations from former employee “uncorroborated and implausible."
  • The House Oversight Committee alleged "potentially unlawful pattern of financial conduct" last week.
Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports
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The Washington Commanders’ legal team labeled the allegations made by a former team ticket employee “uncorroborated and implausible” in a 102-page letter to the Federal Trade Commission on Monday. 

The document obtained by Front Office Sports — which include email exchanges along with affidavits from former Commanders General Counsel David Donovan and former team COO Mitch Gershman — serves as a blow-by-blow response from last week’s letter sent by the House Oversight Committee to the FTC that alleged team executives and owner Dan Snyder “may have engaged in a troubling, long-running, and potentially unlawful pattern of financial conduct.”

“Although purportedly conducting an ‘investigation,’ the Committee did not request a single document from the team,” wrote attorney Jordan Siev, a partner at the firm Reed Smith. “The Committee did not invite a single representative of the team to address the truth of the matters contained in the Committee’s letter, and the Committee did not pose questions to the team to answer in writing about its allegations, or provide any mechanism whatsoever for the team to address the truth of the allegations. 

“Had the Committee posed any of these questions or requests to the Team, the Team could easily and fully have rebutted each allegation, as the complained-of conduct did not occur, plain and simple.”

The letter sent by the Oversight Committee relied largely on allegations made by Jason Friedman, who worked for the Commanders’ ticket office for 24 years. Allegations that the Commanders held back ticket revenue from the NFL were first reported by FOS on April 2.

Later Monday, the House Oversight Committee responded to the Commanders’ letter to the FTC.

“The Committee has been clear that the focus of its investigation is on the team’s toxic workplace and the NFL’s handling of that matter, which is why the Committee provided the statements and documents from Mr. Friedman about potential financial misconduct to the FTC to determine whether additional investigation is warranted,” a House Committee spokesperson said in a statement to FOS. “The team has failed to fully address the issues raised in the Committee’s letter. If the team maintains that it has nothing to hide, it should welcome an independent review by the FTC, or the NFL, which is reportedly examining these issues as well.” 

Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, the attorneys for Friedman, issued the following statement to FOS: “Mr. Friedman stands by his testimony, which was truthful and based on his experiences with the team. He is happy to answer follow-up questions from Congress, the FTC, or any government agency. My client is also prepared to defend himself publicly against these baseless allegations if Mr. Synder permits him to do so. In the meantime, we will communicate directly with the team about these demonstratively false allegations.”

The House Oversight Committee began its investigation in October focused on allegations that the team fostered a hostile work environment. 

The Commanders’ legal team stated in its letter that the team “fired Friedman in 2020 for engaging in intimidating and abusive behavior — the very conduct that the Committee claimed to be investigating.” The document included an email from Friedman’s team email account where an anti-Asian slur was used. 

Friedman worked out of the ticket office in FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, and the team’s legal team wrote that he did not have the “actual knowledge and training regarding the accounting practices.” The Commanders’ financial operations are based at the team’s headquarters in Ashburn, Virginia. 

Friedman told Oversight Committee investigators that the team’s scheme to hold back revenue occurred “primarily from 2010 to 2015.” But Commanders’ attorneys stated that the team was granted a $27 million revenue-sharing waiver that ran from 2013 through 2015.

“His representations to the Committee are not only false, but underscore that Friedman is making claims that extend well beyond his personal knowledge or professional expertise,” Siev wrote. 

The letter, however, didn’t include any statements from Stephen Choi, the Commanders’ former Chief Financial Officer referenced in the Oversight Committee’s letter to the FTC. 

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