When the NFL was investigating its team for widespread misconduct in the workplace, Washington Corporation owner Daniel Snyder directed a “shadow investigation” to interfere with and undermine its findings, a congressional committee found.
At Snyder’s request, his legal team used private investigators to harass and intimidate witnesses, and created a 100-page dossier targeting victims, witnesses and journalists who shared “credible, public accusations of harassment” against the team.
On Wednesday, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform released a 29-page memo detailing the findings of an eight-month investigation into how leaders and the NFL handled allegations of rampant sexual harassment of female staff. The report came ahead of a hearing in which the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, was expected to appear and face questioning.
Snyder declined two requests to appear, citing a “protracted business conflict.” At Wednesday’s hearing, Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, the New York Democrat and chair of the committee, said she plans to call Snyder to testify next week.
In the memo, Maloney wrote that the commission’s investigation uncovered evidence that Snyder sought to discredit those who made allegations against the team and create a “denial narrative” that Snyder was not responsible for the misconduct, which allegedly occurred from 2006 to 2019, almost the entirety of period of ownership.
To that end, Snyder and his attorneys also collected thousands of emails from Bruce Allen, who was CEO of Leaders from 2009 to 2019, in an effort to blame Allen for creating a toxic work environment, and sought to influence the NFL’s investigation through 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 commission’s investigation was “predetermined from the start” and confirmed that the team had been addressing these workplace issues “for years.”
The memo said the NFL was aware of Snyder’s actions, “but failed to take meaningful steps to prevent them.” Wilkinson’s investigation led the league to Imposing a $10 million fine on the team on Snyder and made him retract the club’s day-to-day operations, but the NFL did not ask Wilkinson to prepare a written report, a decision that Examined by elected officials and former team employees who participated in the investigation.
Goodell told the committee at Wednesday’s hearing that the league had “compelling reasons” to limit the Wilkinson report to an oral briefing, that is, to maintain the confidentiality of its participants. “We’ve been open and direct about the fact that leaders’ workplace culture has not only been unprofessional, but has been toxic for far too long,” Goodell said in prepared testimony. He added that there had been a “fundamental shift” in the team’s office and that it was “not similar to the workplace described for this committee”.
The commission, which said its intention was to examine the failures of leaders and the NFL and to strengthen workplace protections for all employees, will present its findings at Wednesday’s hearing. The NFL launched a second investigation into the leaders earlier this year, in response to a new sexual harassment allegation that directly implicated Snyder at a congressional roundtable in February. Goodell said the results of that investigation, led by attorney Mary Jo White, will be made public.
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The commission’s memo also cites additional examples of Snyder’s direct role in creating a workplace that Goodell admitted 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 touched a public relations employee and fired female workers who had entered into consensual relationships with male football operations employees, while the men kept their jobs.
In addition to, The Washington Post reported The Wilkinson investigation examined the 2009 secret settlement of allegations that Snyder touched an employee and asked her to have sex.
Snyder, his wife Tanya, and team boss Jason Wright sent a statement Wednesday to team staff objecting to the “cruel and negative way” the team has been described and pointing to “meaningful” changes to reshape the organization’s culture.