Posts Tagged ‘Dan Snyder’

Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder conducted a “shadow investigation” that sought to discredit former employees making accusations of workplace sexual harassment, hired private investigators to intimidate witnesses, and used an overseas lawsuit as a pretext to obtain phone records and emails, according to a document released by a House committee Wednesday.

The Committee on Oversight and Reform is investigating the Commanders’ workplace culture following accusations of pervasive sexual harassment by team executives of women employees. It released the memo ahead of a hearing Wednesday in Washington that featured testimony from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, appearing remotely from New York.

Snyder was invited to testify but declined, citing overseas business commitments and concerns about due process. The committee chairwoman, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., announced during the hearing that she plans to issue a subpoena to compel a deposition from Snyder next week.

The 29-page memo alleges Snyder tried to discredit the people accusing him and other team executives of misconduct and also tried to influence an investigation of the team conducted for the NFL by attorney Beth Wilkinson’s firm.

Snyder’s attorneys presented the NFL with a 100-slide PowerPoint presentation including “private text messages, emails, phone logs and call transcripts, and social media posts from nearly 50 individuals who Mr. Snyder apparently believed were involved in a conspiracy to disparage him,” the committee said.

In a statement, a spokesman for Snyder characterized the report and the hearing as “a politically charged show trial” and said Congress should not be investigating “an issue a football team addressed years ago.”

Goodell told the committee that the team’s culture has transformed as a result of the Wilkinson probe and that “Dan Snyder has been held accountable.” Asked by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., whether he would remove Snyder as owner, Goodell said, “I don’t have the authority to remove him.”

An NFL owner can only be removed by a three-quarters majority vote of fellow owners.

The NFL fined the team $10 million last year and Snyder stepped away from its day-to-day operations after Wilkinson presented her findings to Goodell. However, the league did not release a written report of Wilkinson’s findings, a decision Goodell said was intended to protect the privacy of former employees who spoke to investigators.

Attorneys Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, who represent more than 40 former team employees, again called on Goodell to release a report from the Wilkinson probe, calling it “stunning and disheartening” to hear him say Snyder has been held accountable.

“Today, the committee released a damning report demonstrating that Snyder and his lawyers also surveilled and investigated complainants, their lawyers, witnesses and journalists, which Goodell knew about and did nothing to address,” Banks and Katz said in a statement.

When announcing the discipline against Snyder, the NFL said none of the people accused of sexual harassment still worked for the Washington franchise. But two separate accusations of sexual harassment by Snyder himself have since surfaced.

Former employee Tiffani Johnston told the committee that Snyder groped her at a team dinner and tried to force her into his limousine, which Snyder denies. And The Washington Post reported Tuesday that a woman accused Snyder of sexually assaulting her on a team plane in 2009, resulting in a $1.6 million settlement.

Goodell acknowledged Wednesday that he was aware of the 2009 allegation and that Snyder did not inform the league at the time, which is a violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

Johnston’s allegation prompted the NFL to hire former Securities and Exchange Commission chairwoman Mary Jo White to conduct a new investigation of Snyder and the team, and the league plans to release her findings to the public.

Maloney has introduced legislation to curb the use of workplace nondisclosure agreements and to offer protections for employees whose professional images are used inappropriately. Among the accusations against the Commanders are that team employees produced a video of lewd outtakes from a photo shoot involving the cheerleading squad.

According to the memo, Snyder used a defamation lawsuit against an obscure online media company based in India as a pretext to subpoena emails, phone records and text messages from former employees who spoke to The Washington Post about workplace harassment. The subpoenas were unusually broad, and many of the people targeted “had no plausible connection” to the Indian media company, the committee said.

The committee also alleged that Snyder sought to blame former team president Bruce Allen for the problems with Washington’s workplace culture and that Snyder’s lawyers provided Wilkinson and the NFL with 400,000 emails from Allen’s account, highlighting specific ones they deemed “inappropriate.” Some email exchanges with Allen included homophobic and misogynistic comments by Jon Gruden, which were leaked to reporters last fall and prompted Gruden’s resignation as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.

Witnesses also told the committee that Snyder sent private investigators to their homes and offered them hush money. The NFL was aware of Snyder’s use of private investigators, according to documents obtained by the committee, but the practice continued, witnesses said.

Another new allegation came from David Pauken, the team’s former chief operating officer, who told the committee in a deposition released Wednesday that Snyder directly ordered the firings of a female front-office employee for having a sexual relationship with a coach and two cheerleaders for having sex with a player. He also said the men involved were not disciplined.

Republicans on the committee accused Democrats of going after an NFL team to distract from more pressing issues and exceeding the scope of the committee’s mission.

“A core responsibility of this committee is to conduct oversight of the executive branch, but this entire Congress, Democrats have turned a blind eye to the Biden administration,” said Kentucky GOP Rep. James Comer, the committee’s ranking member. “Instead, the Oversight committee is investigating a single private organization for workplace misconduct that occurred years ago.”

Asked by Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., what authority the committee had to investigate an NFL team, Maloney responded, “We have authority to investigate anything and everything.”

“Anything and everything,” Norman said. “That’s a total embarrassment.”

Maloney tried to clarify that comment in her closing remarks, saying the committee was authorized “to investigate anything within Congress’ legislative power.”

Commanders coach Ron Rivera issued a statement late Wednesday night, distancing himself from the team’s past.

“These investigations into inappropriate workplace issues pre-dates my employment,” said Rivera, who was hired in 2020. “I cannot change the past, but I would hope that our fans, the NFL and Congress can see that we are doing everything in our power to never repeat those workplace issues. And know that our employees are respected, valued and can be heard.”

A woman accused Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder of sexually harassing and assaulting her on a team plane in 2009, and the woman was later paid $1.6 million by the team to settle her claims, according to a document obtained by the Washington Post.

The Post reported Tuesday that it had obtained a letter by an attorney working for the team that detailed the woman’s allegations while arguing that her claims were not credible. The $1.6 million settlement had been previously revealed in legal filings related to more recent investigations of the team, but details of the woman’s allegations were not disclosed. The woman agreed not to sue the team or publicly disclose her allegations as part of the settlement.

Snyder denied the woman’s allegations, according to the letter, and a team investigation accused her of making up the claims in an attempt to extort him.

The contents of the letter were disclosed a day before a scheduled hearing by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which is investigating the Washington team’s workplace culture. Snyder has declined an invitation by the committee to testify, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was scheduled to testify remotely.

The NFL fined the team $10 million and Snyder stepped away from its day-to-day operations after an investigation by attorney Beth Wilkinson revealed a workplace culture that was abusive to women. But the league declined to release a written report of Wilkinson’s findings.

The committee has since uncovered an allegation of sexual harassment by Snyder. Former team employee Tiffani Johnston told the committee that Snyder groped her at a team dinner and tried to force her into his limousine, claims that Snyder denied.

That triggered a new investigation of the team ordered by the NFL and led by Mary Jo White, a former U.S. attorney and chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. White is also looking into claims of financial improprieties by a former vice president of sales for the team. The NFL has said White’s findings will be made public.

The letter obtained by the Post was written by Howard Shapiro, an attorney at WilmerHale law firm, which had helped the team investigate the woman’s allegations. Shapiro wrote that the woman’s claims were “knowingly false.” He declined to comment to the Post.

According to the letter, the woman accused Snyder of asking her for sex, groping her and trying to take off her clothes in a private, partitioned area at the back of a team plane during a return flight from a trip to Las Vegas.

The letter stated that none of the other passengers on the flight supported the woman’s account. Others said the door to the back area of the plane was open for most of the flight and that other passengers and flight attendants were frequently present in that section, according to the letter.

The attorney for Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder reiterated Monday that Snyder would not testify before Congress on June 22, despite a request from the committee to reconsider.

Karen Patton Seymour declined the initial invitation from the House Oversight Committee investigating the Commanders’ alleged “toxic workplace culture,” saying that Snyder had a “longstanding Commanders-related business conflict” and is out of the country at the end of June. Seymour had also requested copies of documents that committee members intend to use in their questioning.

On Friday, chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., had sent Snyder’s attorney a six-page letter stating Snyder could testify virtually at the June 22 hearing, similar to what NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to do that day. The chairwoman also said the committee was under no obligation to provide documents, but would do so if Snyder agreed to testify.

On Monday, Seymour wrote the committee that, “Mr. Snyder’s business conflict was scheduled long before then and cannot be rescheduled. Moreover, your letter’s suggestion that Mr. Snyder may testify remotely does not address my concern that a virtual appearance would not sufficiently protect Mr. Snyder’s interest in having his counsel physically present with him.”

She went on to say, “The Snyders and the Team remain fully willing to cooperate with the Committee, and are eager to share the cultural transformation undertaken by the Commanders if the Committee is interested in obtaining that information in a manner consistent with appropriate due process and fairness protections.”

A House Oversight Committee spokesperson told ESPN in a statement, “If Mr. Snyder was truly committed to cooperating with the Committee’s investigation, he would have accepted the Committee’s invitation to testify about the Commanders’ toxic workplace culture. As the Chairwoman’s letter made clear, the Committee has been more than accommodating-even allowing Mr. Snyder to testify remotely from France. His refusal to testify sends an unmistakable signal that Mr. Snyder has something to hide and is afraid of coming clean to the American public and addressing major worker protection concerns facing the NFL. The Committee will not be deterred in its investigation to uncover the truth of workplace misconduct at the Washington Commanders.”

In July 2021, the NFL fined the Commanders $10 million after its investigation into the franchise’s workplace culture under Snyder’s ownership. Congress began its investigation shortly after, in October, and is also investigating allegations by a former employee who said she was sexually harassed by Snyder in 2019.

Washington fired multiple employees after allegations of sexual harassment were uncovered by The Washington Post in the summer of 2020. Others who also were charged with sexual harassment had already left the organization or resigned that summer.

Maloney said Snyder could testify despite other ongoing investigations, which was another reason given for Snyder’s hesitation, according to his attorney’s letter. The NFL opened another investigation after the former employee’s allegations in February. Also, the attorneys general in Virginia and Washington, D.C., are looking into allegations of financial improprieties.

“Congress has long investigated matters subject to parallel proceedings,” Maloney wrote.

She said by not testifying, Snyder refuses to “accept accountability for his actions for the culture he has fostered within his team” and casts doubt on his “assertion that the Commanders are now a model of how to make extraordinary improvements in workplace culture.”

A lawyer representing Dan Snyder told Congress the Washington Commanders owner will not testify at a hearing next week as part of an investigation into the team’s workplace conduct.

Attorney Karen Patton Seymour sent a letter to the leaders of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Wednesday explaining the reasons why Snyder was declining the invitation to appear at the June 22 hearing. Among the reasons given were a lack of assurance about the scope of questioning given the existence of multiple ongoing investigations and a scheduling conflict preventing Snyder from appearing in person.

Seymour wrote Snyder “is unable to accept the Committee’s invitation to testify” at the hearing, which the committee called the next step in the investigation and said it will examine how the NFL handles allegations of workplace misconduct and how it sets and enforces standards for all teams.

“Mr. Snyder remains fully willing to assist the committee in its investigation,” Seymour wrote in the letter addressed to Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy Chairman Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.).

A spokeswoman for the committee said it intends to move forward with the hearing as scheduled and plans to respond to the letter from Snyder’s camp.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has accepted the invitation to testify and informed the committee on Wednesday that he will appear virtually, league spokesman Brian McCarthy said.

Semyour said the committee failed to assuage concerns about what topics would be broached to Snyder, citing the investigations being done by former Securities and Exchange Commission chair Mary Jo White on behalf of the NFL and the attorneys general of Virginia and the District of Columbia.

“Although the committee indicated that the hearing would be ‘focused on’ the historical workplace culture issues, I was informed that the committee would not provide any assurance that the questions directed to Mr. Snyder would be limited to those issues, given the wide latitude granted to members to ask questions beyond the topics identified by the committee,” she wrote.

Congress launched an investigation into the team’s workplace culture after an independent review overseen by the league prompted a $10 million fine, but did not include a written report to be released to the public.

The NFL is fining the Washington Football Team $10 million after conducting a workplace review of the club, the league announced Thursday.

The money will be donated to organizations that support character education, anti-bullying, healthy relationships, and other related topics.

Additionally, Washington owner Dan Snyder’s wife and co-CEO, Tanya, will assume the club’s day-to-day operations for “at least the next several months.”

In July 2020, Washington hired attorney Beth Wilkinson to investigate its culture after 15 former female employees reported sexual harassment and/or verbal abuse from club executives. Additional ex-employees accused Snyder and other former members of the organization of sexual harassment and misconduct in August 2020.

The NFL began overseeing Wilkinson’s investigation, per Snyder’s request, later that month.

“Based on Wilkinson’s review, (commissioner Roger Goodell) concluded that, for many years, the workplace environment at the Washington Football Team, both generally and particularly for women, was highly unprofessional,” the NFL said in a statement.

“Bullying and intimidation frequently took place, and many described the culture as one of fear. Numerous female employees reported having experienced sexual harassment and a general lack of respect in the workplace.”

Wilkinson interviewed more than 150 people during her review, including Snyder twice. She made 10 recommendations for the club, including protocols for reporting harassment and protecting the cheerleading team. Dan and Tanya are required to implement each measure.

“I feel great remorse for the people who had difficult, even traumatic, experiences while working here,” Snyder said in a statement. “I’m truly sorry for that.

“I can’t turn back the clock, but I promise that nobody who works here will ever have that kind of experience again, at least not as long as Tanya and I are the owners of this team.”

Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, the two attorneys representing 40 former Washington employees, called the NFL’s investigation and punishment “outrageous,” saying the league protected Snyder, according to Nicki Jhabvala of The Washington Post.

They said: “(By) ignoring our requests (to) make the report prepared by Beth Wilkinson public, the NFL has chosen instead to receive only an oral report of the findings and to fine Dan Snyder what amounts to pocket change.

“This is truly outrageous, and is a slap in the face of the hundreds of women and former employees who came forward in good faith and at great personal risk to report a culture of abuse at all levels of the team, including by Snyder himself.”

The NFL also vowed to develop “comprehensive and mandatory training” leaguewide to combat bullying, harassment, and discrimination.

Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder is planning to build a new stadium for his franchise.

Snyder told TMZ that he expects the club to open a “state-of-the-art” stadium by 2027.

The 56-year-old owner is looking at various stadiums to draw inspiration for his future project. Snyder, along with other team executives, was reportedly in Los Angeles this week to check out SoFi Stadium, and he’ll be going as far as Europe to check out facilities.

“We’re touring stadiums,” Snyder said. “We’re coming West Coast and touring. There’s about 12 of us, and we’re just looking to build a new venue back home in D.C., Virginia, Maryland.”

Team president Jason Wright added: “We’re taking inspiration from everywhere because if we’re going to do something that our fans really deserve – which is cutting edge and innovative – we’re going to take in all the ideas. So, we’re absorbing.”

Washington has been playing at its current stadium, FedEx Field, since 1997. The facility is reportedly in the midst of its first major renovation project since opening, with the club improving the stadium’s playing surface.

Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder has an agreement to buy out his limited shareholders, giving him full equity of the franchise, an NFL spokesman confirmed to Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press.

The NFL’s finance committee has already signed off on a $450-million debt waiver Snyder requested to complete the deal. The league is expected to officially approve the transaction at the end of the month during the next scheduled owners meeting.

Fred Smith of FedEx, Robert Rothman of Black Diamond Capital, and Dwight Schar of NVR Inc. had been looking to sell their shares for several months. Combined, they own 40.5% of the franchise.

Last year, Snyder drew widespread criticism after the Washington Post published a report detailing the toxic workplace culture dozens of female and minority employees had allegedly experienced. For years, Snyder was maligned for his refusal to change the team’s name, which many Indigenous groups considered racist.

Snyder has also often been panned for meddling in football operations. Under his ownership since 1999, the club has yet to advance beyond the divisional round of the playoffs.

Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder says he is the victim of an extortion attempt by one of the team’s minority owners, according to court documents filed in Maryland on Wednesday and accessed by ESPN’s John Keim.

The court filing comes a day after it was reported the franchise paid a woman who used to work for the team $1.6 million in 2009 as part of a confidential settlement in a sexual misconduct claim against Snyder.

It was also reported this week that Snyder is blocking the club’s three minority owners – Fred Smith, Dwight Schar, and Robert Rothman – from selling a 40% stake in the team for $900 million. Snyder identified Schar as the owner attempting to extort him.

“I firmly believe that plaintiff’s motion and supplemental filing and the news articles that they have generated are the latest in the effort to extort me,” read Snyder’s recent court filing.

He also alleges that the negative articles are an attempt “to smear me in an effort to gain leverage in this business dispute.”

The three minority owners reportedly pressured Snyder to sell the franchise in August, though tensions existed prior to the offseason.

Dan Snyder, N.F.L. Respond to Sexual Harassment Claims Against Washington  Team - The New York Times

The Washington Football Team has received a $900-million offer from a group of investors from California for a 40% stake in the club, according to Will Hobson, Mark Maske, and Liz Clarke of The Washington Post. However, majority owner Daniel Snyder is refusing to accept the deal.

Washington’s three minority shareholders – FedEx chief executive Fred Smith, real estate magnate Dwight Schar, and investor Robert Rothman – tentatively accepted the offer, per The Washington Post. However, Snyder is blocking the sale by trying to exercise his right of first refusal to buy back the franchise’s minority shares before they’re sold to other parties.

Snyder’s refusal to accept the deal is part of a feud with one of the minority owners, notes The Washington Post. The majority owner has offered to acquire the 25% held by Smith and Rothman, but not the 15% held by Schar.

The interested buyers are Behdad Eghbali and Jose Feliciano, co-founders of private equity firm Clearlake Capital, as well as Feliciano’s wife, Kwanza Jones.

The minority owners reportedly sued Snyder on Nov. 13 in U.S. District Court in Maryland as an attempt to move the sale forward.

The group previously pressured Snyder to sell the franchise following a controversial offseason, which included the team’s name change after corporate sponsors threatened to cut ties with the organization.

Washington is currently worth $3.5 billion, according to Forbes.

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Multiple former Washington Football Team employees have accused owner Dan Snyder and other ex-employees of sexual harassment and misconduct, according to an investigation by The Washington Post’s Will Hobson, Beth Reinhard, Liz Clarke, and Dalton Bennett on Wednesday.

Former Washington cheerleader Tiffany Bacon Scourby is one of 25 women who says she experienced sexual harassment while working for the team. Bacon Scourby said that, during a 2004 charity event, Snyder suggested she should join his friend in their hotel room to “get to know each other better.”

Most of the other women who spoke to the Post opted to remain anonymous, but detailed male bosses, colleagues, and players commenting on their bodies, using sexual innuendos, and making unwanted advances during their tenure. Many decided to speak out after 15 other former female employees alleged in July that they’d experienced sexual harassment from Washington execs.

Larry Michael, the former longtime radio announcer for the club who resigned last month, was also named in the report. Brad Baker, an ex-broadcasting staff member, said Michael asked him to create a video for Snyder comprised of outtakes from the team’s official 2008 cheerleader calendar photoshoot that contained partial nudity, without the women’s knowledge or consent.

Baker said the clips were referred to as “the good bits” and a similar video was requested and produced for the 2010 shoot.

Snyder responded to the Washington Post investigation Wednesday afternoon, taking full responsibility for his team’s internal culture but saying the article read like a “hit job” and denying the accusations made against him.

“The article is riddled with questionable and unnamed sources, decades old allegations, and is not a reflection of the Washington Football Team today,” his statement read. “I am going to work relentlessly to improve all aspects of the Washington Football Team and make this an organization that sets a positive example we can all be proud of.”

Michael also denied all allegations and said he had no knowledge of such videos, though the Post obtained the 2008 video via another former employee and a similar video from 2010.

Following the initial reports of sexual harassment, the owner publicly stated that such behavior “has no place in our franchise” while working with new head coach Ron Rivera to implement a new culture within the organization.