Washington Commanders Fire Back at Financial Impropriety Allegations
WASHINGTON — Attorneys for the Washington Commanders are challenging allegations submitted to the Federal Trade Commission that the football team’s owner and top management stole ticket revenue they were supposed to share with visiting teams.
The team also is accused of neglecting to return deposits that fans put down on multi-year seat leases.
The allegations were prompted by a letter that members of a U.S. House Oversight and Reform subcommittee wrote to the Federal Trade Commission.
The letter said the team might have withheld $5 million in deposits from about 2,000 customers whose seat leases expired. The leases say the customers must advance a 25% deposit but that it would be returned to them at the end of their lease term.
Team owner Dan Snyder is accused of figuring out loopholes to evade the need to return deposits.
The letter also says the team appears to have concealed income from the NFL to avoid league revenue-sharing requirements.
The House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy was tipped off by a former employee who says he was ordered to fabricate financial reports.
The team’s attorneys responded with their own letter this week to the Federal Trade Commission. It said, “The committee’s letter is based on the testimony solely of a disgruntled, lying former employee without knowledge of the facts.”
The congressional committee uncovered the new allegations while it investigated complaints of sexual harassment by Snyder and his top managers. Female employees – including cheerleaders – said they sometimes were treated as sex objects, paraded around and leered at by male employees and business partners.
The NFL also investigated the harassment claims. It concluded with a report saying the team maintained a hostile workplace.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell fined the Washington Football Team, now renamed the Commanders, $10 million. He also ordered improvements to Snyder’s management.
The sexual harassment investigation by Congress continues but is branching out to other parts of the Washington Commanders’ organization.
Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., was unrelenting when she explained why the investigation is expanding.
“This new information on potential financial misconduct suggests that the rot under Dan Snyder’s leadership is much deeper than imagined,” Maloney said. “It further reinforces the concern that this organization has been allowed to operate with impunity for far too long.”
“I hope the FTC will review this troubling financial conduct and determine whether further action is necessary,” Maloney said. “We must have accountability.”
Allegations of financial impropriety started with congressional testimony of former team executive Jason Friedman.
He said the Commanders used questionable accounting methods to get around an NFL revenue-sharing program that redistributes money from teams that earn the most money to others with less funding.
Team bookkeepers reportedly misclassified their revenue as venue fees for events at the Commanders’ stadium that were unrelated to home games, such as concerts and college football games. Income from unrelated events does not need to be shared with other teams under NFL rules.
Commanders’ attorney Jordan Siev slammed Friedman in his 17-page letter to the Federal Trade Commission.
“The committee took the untested (by cross-examination or otherwise) word of Jason Friedman — a disgruntled former employee who was not an accountant, was fired for professional misconduct in October 2020, and proceeded to plead with the team to get his old job back until January 2022 — as gospel, and published it, with embellishment, without giving the team any chance to address his allegations,” the team’s letter said.
It added, “Had the committee requested any information from the team on the issues raised in the committee’s letter, the team could, and would, have provided testimony and documents making clear that the complained-of conduct did not occur.”
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