As the NFL investigated his team for widespread workplace misconduct, Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder led a “shadow investigation” to interfere with and undermine its findings, a congressional committee found.
At Snyder’s urging, his legal team used private investigators to harass and intimidate witnesses and created a 100-page dossier targeting victims, witnesses and journalists who had shared “credible public allegations of harassment” against the team.
The House Oversight and Reform Committee released a 29-page memo Wednesday detailing the findings of its eight-month investigation into how commanders and the NFL handled allegations of rampant sexual harassment of female team employees. The report came ahead of a hearing in which league commissioner Roger Goodell was expected to appear for questioning. Snyder turned down two requests to appear, citing a “long-standing business conflict.”
Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-New York, chair of the committee, wrote that the investigation uncovered evidence that Snyder sought to discredit those who had made claims against the team and create “an exculpatory narrative” that Snyder was not at fault. for the misconduct, which allegedly took place between 2006 and 2019, almost the entire holding of the property from him.
To that end, Snyder and his attorneys also collected thousands of emails from Bruce Allen, who was an executive with Commanders from 2009 to 2019, in an effort to blame Allen for creating a toxic work environment and tried to influence the company. NFL investigation via direct access to the league and Beth Wilkinson, the attorney who led the league’s report, according to the memo.
A representative for Snyder said in a statement that the committee’s investigation was “predetermined from the start” and claimed that the team addressed these workplace issues “years ago.”
The NFL was aware of Snyder’s actions, the memo said, “but took no significant steps to prevent them.” Wilkinson’s investigation prompted the league to impose a $10 million team fine on Snyder and forced him to withdraw from day-to-day club operations, but the NFL did not ask Wilkinson to prepare a written report, a decision that has prompted scrutiny from both elected officials and former team employees who participated in the investigation.
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Goodell will tell the committee Wednesday that the league had “compelling reasons” for limiting Wilkinson’s report to an oral briefing — that is, to preserve the confidentiality of its participants. “We’ve been open and upfront about the fact that the workplace culture at Commanders was not only unprofessional, but also toxic for far too long,” Goodell said in prepared testimony. He added that there has been a “substantial transformation” of the team’s office and that it “does not resemble the workplace that has been described to this committee.”
The committee, which said its intent was to examine the failures of commanders and the NFL and strengthen workplace protections for all employees, will present its findings at Wednesday’s hearing. The NFL launched a second investigation into the Commanders earlier this year, in response to a new sexual harassment allegation directly implicating Snyder at a congressional roundtable in February. Goodell has said the results of that investigation, led by attorney Mary Jo White, will be made public.
The committee memo also cites additional examples of Snyder’s direct role in creating a workplace that Goodell acknowledged was marked by widespread disrespect and harassment. The team’s former chief operating officer told the committee that Snyder “refused to take action” against a coach who allegedly groped a public relations employee and fired female workers who had consensual relationships with men’s soccer operations employees, while the men kept their jobs.
Additionally, the Washington Post reported that Wilkinson’s investigation examined a confidential 2009 settlement of a claim that Snyder groped an employee and asked for sex.