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Law

Congressional Hearing Could Impact Dan Snyder’s Grasp on Commanders

  • While Snyder is in France, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will be sole witness at House Oversight Committee hearing.
  • Members of the committee are expected to drill down on Snyder's alleged culpability as it relates the team's toxic workplace culture.
Snyder Hearing
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

The House Oversight’s Committee memo stated the purpose of today’s hearing on the toxic workplace claims made against the Washington Commanders was to “help inform legislative efforts to strengthen protections for employees across all workplaces.”

For Commanders owner Dan Snyder, the hearing potentially could impact his grasp of the NFL franchise he purchased in 1999. 

“For more than two decades, Dan Snyder refused to protect the women who worked for him from the toxic culture he created,” Oversight Committee Chair Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney said in part of her prepared opening statement obtained by Front Office Sports. “The NFL has also failed to protect these women. Now, I believe it is up to Congress to protect them, and millions more like them.”

Snyder declined multiple invitations to attend the hearing and was given the option to testify remotely. But his legal team told the Oversight Committee that Snyder had a “long-standing Commanders-related business conflict,” which Maloney (D-New York) noted Friday was an “awards ceremony in France.”

Snyder’s 305-foot yacht is currently off the coast of Cannes, where the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and the Cannes Lions Awards are taking place this week. The yacht Snyder paid about $180 million for in 2019 has the internet capabilities that can handle Zoom. 

Roger Goodell will appear at the hearing remotely, the first time the NFL commissioner has testified in front of Congress since 2009.

Goodell was one of eight to testify in that hearing on head injuries. He will be solo for this one. 

Ahead of the hearing, Maloney shared a memo detailing “evidence uncovered by the Committee demonstrating that although publicly, the NFL and Commanders touted the hiring of a respected D.C. attorney to conduct an internal investigation of the Commanders’ toxic workplace, privately…Snyder launched a shadow investigation in an apparent effort to discredit his accusers in the eyes of the NFL and offer up an alternative target for the investigation.”

“Bound together by an agreement to pursue a common interest and a joint legal strategy, the NFL and Commanders ultimately buried Ms. Wilkinson’s findings.”

What to Expect

Oversight Committee staffers have interviewed several other former employees and received more than 200,000 documents from the NFL since the investigation commenced last October. 

The most recent allegation made against Snyder came at the first hearing in front of the committee, a roundtable discussion in February where former Commanders cheerleader and marketing manager Tiffani Johnston was among six former team employees to testify.

Johnston said Snyder invited her to a networking event where she alleged Snyder placed his hand on her thigh under a table and Snyder “aggressively pushed” her toward his limo later that night. 

Snyder described Johnston’s allegations as “outright lies.

It’s expected that Maloney will lead off the hearing detailing the findings of the committee’s investigation that led to two pieces of legislation introduced on Friday.

It was long expected that Goodell would be asked to testify at some point and committee member Jackie Speier gave a preview of what she plans to ask him in an interview with FOS earlier this year. 

“My question to him is why haven’t you prohibited Snyder from having the franchise?” Speier (D-California) said. “He’s not conducted himself in a manner that should allow him to continue to own the Commanders. In any other corporation, a board of directors would have booted him out a decade ago.”

In Goodell’s prepared remarks, he described the team’s workplace in years past as “unprofessional and unacceptable in numerous respects: bullying, widespread disrespect toward colleagues, use of demeaning language, public embarrassment, and harassment.” Goodell added that the league “imposed unprecedented discipline on the club” that included a record $10 million fine.

“In addition, for the past year, Daniel Snyder has not attended League or committee meetings, and to the best of my knowledge, has not been involved in day-to-day operations at the Commanders,” Goodell’s opening statement reads. d the most recent independent workplace report, which we have shared with the Committee, confirms that an entirely new, highly skilled, and diverse management team is in place and that there has been a ‘substantial transformation of [the team’s] culture, leadership, and Human Resources practices.’ To be clear – the workplace at the Commanders today bears no resemblance to the workplace that has been described to this committee.”

If the February hearing was any indication, the Republican members who are in the minority on the committee are expected to criticize Congress’ role investigating the Commanders and the NFL. 

How Hearing Could Impact Snyder, Commanders

Some NFL owners have become increasingly annoyed with Snyder’s string of controversies, and there have been a couple of reports that a move is afoot to force Snyder out. 

It takes 24 owners to force an owner for removal, a threshold that, sources told FOS, isn’t close to being reached yet. Sources told FOS that team owners are still trying to gather information — from the harassment allegations made against him to his role in allegedly holding back revenue from the league — before even urging Snyder to sell, a step that’d be taken before a vote on removal. 

The findings presented at the hearing will be the first on any of the four known investigations into the Commanders. 

On top of the Oversight Committee probe, the Commanders are subject to investigations by the attorneys general in Washington D.C. and Virginia. 

There’s also the ongoing investigation by former SEC Chair Mary Jo White. White was tapped by the NFL earlier this year to look into Johnston’s allegations along with the allegations of financial improprieties first detailed by FOS in April.  

The team is also looking for a new home to replace FedEx Field and, so far, have been unable to get public funding for the effort. 

The chances of building a new $3 billion domed stadium in Virginia were put on hold as a bill that would have authorized a stadium authority won’t be brought up for a vote until next year at the earliest.

How to Watch

C-SPAN2 will broadcast the hearing and the feed is also available via YouTube.

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