Thursday September 28, 2023

Congress’ Probe of Commanders, Dan Snyder Likely Nearing Crescendo

  • The House Oversight Committee deposed former Commanders exec Bruce Allen this week.
  • With the House expected to flip, time could be running out for congressional investigators.
Snyder Congress
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports
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Former Washington Commanders exec Bruce Allen’s deposition behind closed doors with Congress was described as uneventful despite its 10-hour length, said two sources with knowledge of Tuesday’s proceedings. 

But those same sources told Front Office Sports that the House Oversight Committee  investigation that has spanned nearly 11 months isn’t quite over — and it’s still possible the committee will submit a referral to the Justice Department. 

It’s been more than six weeks since Commanders owner Dan Snyder’s deposition. The transcript of Snyder’s interview that lasted slightly longer than Allen’s hasn’t been released, and few details of that interview have been made public outside previous FOS reporting

While some congressional insiders expect the committee to issue a referral to the DOJ, it’s not clear who would be the target and for what alleged crime. Also, a referral and any evidence the committee sends along with it doesn’t guarantee the FBI or another arm of the DOJ will investigate. 

“The Justice Department is going to look at the letter and the evidence to determine whether it wants to invest the resources,” said attorney Michael Stern, who served eight years as senior counsel to the House of Representatives. “The most likely type of referral — and one that has the most impact — would be for a crime that has been committed against Congress, like lying to Congress or obstruction.”

Snyder certainly appears to be of most interest to the committee, who issued a subpoena for him days after the June hearing that he missed, and where NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was the sole witness. 

Snyder, after weeks’ worth of negotiations with the committee, testified voluntarily on July 28

“We found that Mr. Snyder approved the firing of a cheerleader for having a relationship with a male team member, but took no action against the male employee,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-New York), the committee’s chair, said at the June hearing. 

“And we found that Mr. Snyder orchestrated a shadow investigation, sending private investigators to the homes of former employees, terrifying them, offering hush money, and compiling a dossier on his accusers.”

If a referral is in the offing, it wouldn’t be this committee’s first for a sports figure. 

Seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens was the target of a criminal referral in February 2008, two weeks after he testified in front of the House Oversight Committee during its probe of the use of performance-enhancing drugs in MLB. 

Clemens denied using steroids and PEDs at the hearing where — like Snyder at his deposition — he was under oath. 

An investigation by the FBI was initiated, although it would be nearly two-and-a-half years before Clemens was indicted by a grand jury on three counts of making false statements, two counts of perjury, and one count of obstruction of Congress. 

Clemens faced as much as 30 years in prison and a fine up to $1.5 million, according to the indictment that was unsealed in August 2010.  He was eventually acquitted of all charges in June 2012. 

But the clock is ticking on the Oversight Committee’s investigation since the 20th Amendment mandates terms in Congress end by noon ET on Jan. 3. Since it’s predicted that the Republicans will seize the House in November’s midterm elections, a GOP takeover of the Oversight Committee likely means an end of the investigation. 

The Republican minority of the committee has been critical of the investigation since it was launched last October. 

“Democrats are more committed to politics than our committee’s mission,” Rep. James Comer (R-Kentucky), the ranking member of the Oversight Committee, said at June’s hearing. 

“Our committee’s mission is government efficiency and effectiveness. Our committee’s mission is to protect taxpayer dollars from government fraud, waste, and mismanagement. Our committee’s mission is to hold government more accountable. Instead of conducting oversight of the Federal Government, Democrats investigate the private sector.”

Stern, the former House lawyer and author of the blog Point of Order, said there likely is “some political pressure” to release something.

“It doesn’t have to be a referral,” Stern said. “More typically, it’d be a report that says ‘this is what we found’ and ‘this is what you should do to prevent similar things happening in the future.’”  

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