A Congressional committee discovered that while the NFL was investigating his team for widespread workplace misconduct, Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder directed a “shadow investigation” to interfere with and undermine its findings.
At Snyder’s request, his legal team used private investigators to harass and intimidate witnesses, and they compiled a 100-page dossier targeting victims, witnesses, and journalists who had made “credible public accusations of harassment” against the team.
On Wednesday, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform issued a 29-page memo outlining the findings of its eight-month investigation into how the Commanders and the NFL handled claims of rampant sexual harassment of the team’s female employees. The report came just days before a hearing in which the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, was expected to appear and face questions. Snyder declined two appearance requests, citing a “longstanding business conflict.”
The committee’s chairwoman, Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York, wrote that the investigation uncovered evidence that Snyder sought to discredit those who had made claims against the team and to create “an exculpatory narrative” that Snyder was not to blame for the misconduct, which was alleged to have occurred from 2006 to 2019, almost the entire tenure of his ownership.
According to the memo, Snyder and his lawyers also gathered thousands of emails from Bruce Allen, a Commanders executive from 2009 to 2019, in an effort to blame Allen for the creation of a toxic work environment, and attempted to influence the NFL investigation through direct access to the league and Beth Wilkinson, the lawyer who led the league’s report.
In a statement, a representative for Snyder stated that the committee’s investigation was “predetermined from the beginning” and that the team addressed these workplace issues “years ago.”
The NFL was aware of Snyder’s actions, but “failed to take meaningful steps to prevent them,” according to the memo. The league imposed a $10 million team fine on Snyder and ordered him to step back from the club’s day-to-day operations as a result of Wilkinson’s investigation, but the league did not ask Wilkinson to prepare a written report, a decision that has drawn criticism from both elected officials and former team employees who participated in the investigation.
On Wednesday, Goodell will tell the committee that the league had “compelling reasons” to limit the Wilkinson report to an oral briefing, specifically to protect the confidentiality of its participants. In prepared testimony, Goodell stated, “We have been open and direct about the fact that the workplace culture at the Commanders was not only unprofessional, but toxic for far too long.” He went on to say that the team’s office had undergone “substantial transformation” and that it “bears no resemblance to the workplace described to this committee.”
The committee, whose stated goal is to investigate failures by the Commanders and the NFL while also strengthening 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 allegation of sexual harassment in a February congressional round table that directly implicated Snyder. Goodell has stated that the results of the investigation, which was led by lawyer Mary Jo White, will be made public.
The memo also cites additional examples of Snyder’s direct role in creating a workplace that Goodell acknowledged was rife with disrespect and harassment. According to the team’s former chief operating officer, Snyder “refused to take action” against a coach who allegedly groped a public relations employee and fired female employees who engaged in consensual relationships with male football operations employees while the men kept their jobs.
Furthermore, according to The Washington Post, the Wilkinson investigation looked into the 2009 confidential settlement of a claim that Snyder groped a female employee and asked her for sex.