Daniel Snyder conducted a “shadow investigation” of prosecutors, the house committee finds

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Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder and members of his legal team conducted a “shadow investigation” and compiled a “dossier” aimed at former team members, their lawyers and journalists in an attempt to discredit his prosecutors and shift the blame after allegations of widespread dishonesty in the team. workplace, according to findings from a survey conducted by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

In addition, Snyder hired private investigators and lawyers to uncover inappropriate emails and evidence aimed at convincing the NFL and Beth Wilkinson, who conducted a league-sponsored investigation into sexual harassment in the organization, that Snyder’s longtime team president Bruce Allen was primarily responsible for any workplace problems.

The preliminary findings were described in a 29-page note from the rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (DN.Y.), chair of the committee, to other committee members ahead of Wednesday’s Capitol Hill hearing on the commanders’ workplace where NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to testify under oath. Snyder has refused to participate, and protests against the date and conditions.

This memorandum describes evidence uncovered by the committee that shows that even though the NFL and Commanders publicly highlighted the hiring of a respected DC attorney [Wilkinson] “To conduct an internal investigation into Commander’s toxic workplace, privately, Commander’s owner Daniel Snyder launched a shadow investigation into an apparent attempt to discredit his accusers in the eyes of the NFL and offer an alternative target for the investigation,” Maloney wrote in his letter. note. “Tied together by an agreement to pursue a common interest and a common legal strategy, the NFL and Commanders eventually buried Ms. Wilkinson’s findings.”

Team representatives and a lawyer for Snyder did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday morning. An NFL spokesman was asked for comment on the committee’s findings, referring to Goodell’s prepared comments for Wednesday’s hearing.

The document reveals details of the 2009 sexual assault charge against Daniel Snyder

“It took considerable courage for many to relive their painful experiences and tell their individual stories,” Goodell’s comments read in part. “No one should experience jobs like the one they described, especially not in the National Football League. I can say to any victim unequivocally that their willingness to stand up has contributed to a significantly improved workplace.

“It is clear to me that the workplace in Washington was unprofessional and unacceptable in many ways: bullying, widespread disrespect for colleagues, use of derogatory language, public embarrassment and harassment. In addition, the managers for a long period had a sadly deficient HR function, especially with regard to reporting practices and record keeping. “

The hearing comes a day after The Washington Post reported that a team member accused Snyder of sexually harassing and abusing her in April 2009, three months before the team agreed to pay the woman $ 1.6 million as part of a confidential settlement, according to legal correspondence obtained by The Post. Snyder has called the woman’s claims “meritless” and said that the team agreed to a settlement only after the guidance of an insurance company.

“Mr. Snyder’s attorneys used their shadow investigation to create a 100-slide case of emails, text messages, phone calls and social media posts from journalists, victims and witnesses who had made credible public allegations of harassment against commanders,” Maloney wrote in the 29-page note.

The documentation prepared by Snyder’s representatives, according to the committee’s investigation, included Post reporters who had detailed allegations of sexual harassment in the team’s workplace and attorneys Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, who represent more than 40 former team members.

“Mr. Snyder’s legal team gave several presentations to the NFL during Ms. Wilkinson’s investigation, including one involving a 100-page PowerPoint slide describing the private communications and social media activity of Washington Post reporters and former employees,” Maloneys said. note.

The 100-slides file was produced from “information obtained through abusive trials and private investigators targeting victims and witnesses to the commanders’ toxic work environment,” the committee found. Snyder’s goal, Maloney wrote, “seems to have been to create an apologetic narrative to present to the NFL that shows he was not responsible for the commanders’ toxic work environment, but instead was the victim of a coordinated smear campaign.”

The NFL fined $ 10 million in July last year, based on findings from Wilkinson’s investigation. The league also announced then that Snyder would hand over control of the franchise’s daily operations to his wife Tanya, the team’s co-CEO, for an unspecified period. She has represented the team at league meetings since then.

The committee’s investigation found that Snyder and his lawyers sent private investigators to the homes of former team cheerleaders to seek derogatory information about Allen and combed through more than 400,000 emails on Allen’s inactive team account in an attempt to convince the NFL that Allen was “responsible for the team’s toxic work culture.”

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Snyder had fired Allen after a decade as team president in December 2019. Allen was not immediately available for comment.

Lawyers representing Snyder provided Wilkinson’s firm and NFL Allen emails, the committee found. A lawyer for Snyder “identified the specific inappropriate Bruce Allen emails in an attempt to demonstrate that Bruce Allen had created a toxic environment at Washington Commanders,” Maloney’s note states.

Several of these emails later appeared in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, including some in which then-Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden used racist, homophobic and misogynistic language during seven years of correspondence with Allen while Gruden worked for ESPN . Gruden withdrew from the Raiders after the emails were revealed.

Tanya Snyder told other NFL franchisees at a league meeting in New York in October that neither she nor her husband were responsible for the leaked emails, said several people who were present at the meeting at the time.

Gruden sued the NFL in November, accusing the league and Goodell of using leaked emails to “publicly sabotage Gruden’s career” and force him to resign. The NFL has said it did not leak Gruden’s emails.

The league is now conducting a new investigation of Snyder, which is being monitored by lawyer Mary Jo White. Goodell has promised to release these findings, after he refused to release Wilkinson’s findings and said that Wilkinson only submitted an oral report to the league.

Maloney’s summary of the congressional inquiry noted that the NFL’s first contract with Wilkinson asked her to submit a written report and make recommendations, but that the league later “changed its plan.” Maloney’s note accuses the team and the NFL of obstructing the investigations of both Wilkinson and the congressional panel.

The memo also cites cases where Snyder did not take any action against coaches and senior employees, but still punished female employees for entering into consensual relationships with male employees. David Pauken, the team’s former operations manager, told the committee that when Snyder learned that a coach had groped for a PR employee, Snyder refused to take action against the coach and instead told the PR staff member to “stay away from the coach”.

Pauken also testified that Snyder fired female employees who engaged in consensual relationships with male members of the team or its employees. He cited two cheerleaders’ dismissal for relationship with former tight-end Chris Cooley.

“The female employee was fired, the male employee was – there were no consequences other than that he was restricted from further sex with cheerleaders,” it says in Maloney’s summary.

Another former COO of the team, Brian Lafemina, testified that when Snyder was informed of allegations of sexual harassment against former broadcaster Larry Michael, he dismissed the allegations, saying Michael was a “girlfriend” who “would not hurt anyone.” Michael later retired.

Former team leader Jason Friedman told the committee that the team’s culture “glorified drinking and women’s use.”

The committee has previously detailed Friedman’s allegations of financial wrongdoing against the team in a letter to the Federal Trade Commission. The team denied these allegations.

At a congressional round table in February, Tiffani Johnston, a former cheerleader and marketing manager for the team, told committee members that Snyder harassed her at a team dinner, put his hand on her thigh and pressed her against his limousine. Snyder called the accusations directly against him “pure lies”.

Former Washington Commanders teammate Tiffani Johnston testified Feb. 3 that team owner Dan Snyder harassed her at a team dinner. (Video: The Washington Post)