Attorney for Washington Commanders Says Congress Ignored Exculpatory Evidence
WASHINGTON — An attorney for the Washington Commanders blasted a congressional committee Wednesday for its investigation into hostile workplace allegations against the team’s owner and leadership.
A letter from the attorney was addressed to Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., who chairs the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
“The investigation of the Washington Commanders has not been fair, thorough, or bipartisan, and it certainly hasn’t sought the truth,” says the letter written by attorney Tom Davis. “From the beginning, the committee set out with a singular purpose — to destroy [team owner] Dan Snyder and his family and attempt, with deception, innuendo, and half-truths, to drive him from the National Football League. This investigation reeks of the lowest form of politics and its only purpose is personal destruction.”
Davis wrote the letter in anticipation of the Oversight and Reform Committee completing its final report soon. He is a former congressman who was a member of the committee.
The report is likely to play an important role in determining whether Snyder continues to lead the Commanders. Depending on the outcome, other team owners said they might ask Snyder to either resign or would vote to oust him from the league.
Davis says the committee overlooked key information that might exonerate Snyder.
“I believe that the public has a right to know the truth about this NFL franchise and why the committee has decided to insulate itself from highly relevant information that has been available from the inception of the investigation, and that runs counter to the committee’s preconceived narrative,” Davis wrote.
The congressional investigation was prompted by a series of July 2020 Washington Post articles based on more than 40 women who worked for the Washington Redskins, later the Washington Commanders. They included cheerleaders and office workers.
Many accused Snyder, other executives and players of sexual harassment, bullying and intimidation.
A later report indicated Snyder settled privately with a female employee for $1.6 million after he allegedly sexually harassed her on a team plane while returning from the Academy of Country Music Awards in 2009.
Snyder denied The Washington Post reports. He also hired attorney Beth Wilkinson to investigate the allegations.
As Wilkinson began compiling evidence implicating Snyder, the National Football League took control of the investigation.
Other team insiders said Snyder might have withheld ticket revenue that was supposed to be shared with the NFL and underreported earnings to the Internal Revenue Service.
The NFL subsequently fined the team $10 million. Snyder voluntarily agreed to temporarily step down from his leadership position while turning over day-to-day management to his wife.
Snyder testified before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on July 28 but denied the worst of the hostile workplace allegations against him.
Additional denials were found in his attorney’s nine-page letter to the committee this week, which also said the lawmakers failed to adequately check out Snyder’s side of the story.
“The committee has made certain highly publicized allegations, including allegations of sexual harassment by Mr. Snyder, without undertaking even basic investigative steps to assess the credibility of its witnesses or to determine whether the incidents, as described, are even plausible, much less consistent with documentary evidence in the possession of the team — evidence which, again, the committee has never requested,” the letter said.
The committee appeared to be unconvinced by the attorney’s assertions in a statement it issued.
“Since launching this investigation one year ago, the committee’s focus has been to uncover the truth about the decadeslong hostile workplace culture at the Commanders and find legislative solutions to ensure that all employees are protected from abuse and harassment in their place of work,” the statement said.
“Although the Commanders’ owner has recently claimed to have turned over a new leaf, this latest effort to attack and intimidate former employees who have come forward casts doubt on this assertion — as does the team’s continued efforts to block the production of documents to the committee,” the statement said. “The committee’s investigation will not be deterred by such tactics.”
No date has been set for release of the committee’s report on the Commanders.