Washington Commanders According to a Democrat-led U.S. House Committee's Wednesday findings, Snyder, the owner, conducted a shadow investigation into allegations that he fostered a toxic culture in his company. He also worked closely with the NFL, to monitor and eventually bury the results of an official internal investigation.
On the morning of Roger Goodell's testimony, the U.S. House Oversight Committee published a 29-page memo detailing its findings. It was supported by over 600 pages depositions.
The memo also states that the eight-month investigation by the committee found evidence that Snyder used subpoena authority to obtain correspondence from Bruce Allen, former president, and other former employees. According to the memo the purpose was to show the NFL that Allen was the cause of the toxic workplace environment and that former employees were conspiring against him.
The committee claims Snyder used a mutual-interest agreement between Commanders of the NFL and the Commanders to “attempt [to] steer the direction” for the independent investigation into Beth Wilkinson's team and to discredit the accusers, including those who were cited in reports published on the Washington Post by providing Wilkinson with “derogatory data about them.”
Snyder repeatedly refused to attend Wednesday's hearing and stated that he was traveling for business reasons.
The NFL provided a copy Wednesday of Goodell's prepared remarks. He stated that Washington's workplace is “unprofessional and unacceptable in many respects” and that “the Commanders' workplace today bears no resemblance with the workplace that was described to this commission.”
ESPN received no comment on Wednesday from Snyder and Commanders representatives. James Comer (R.Kentucky), the Republican ranking member on the committee, declined to comment Wednesday. He has been vocal about the fact that Congress should not be involved in investigating Commanders.
According to the memo, which was written by Carolyn Maloney (D–New York), Snyder's lawyers compile a “100-slide” dossier in November 2020. The dossier is “based on private texts, emails and phone logs as well social media posts and transcripts from close to 50 people.”
Snyder's attorneys presented the 100 slides along with information about Washington Post journalists to the NFL. According to the memo, the purpose was to “craft an exulpatory narrative” to present to NFL. This narrative would show that Snyder was not responsible for Commanders' toxic work environment and instead, was the victim in a coordinated smear campaign.
The memo details how Snyder's attorney obtained private information for the dossier. Snyder filed a defamation suit against Media Entertainment Arts Worldwide in 2020. MEAWW is located in India. According to the memo, Snyder used a “powerful litigation tool available for parties to a foreign proceeding” to compel phone records and emails from former employees.
“A close examination Mr. Snyder's writings [petitions] suggests that his focus was not on discovering the sources of the MEAWW articles but on those who were behind the Washington Post exposés,” the memo states.
The subpoenas were issued to Jessica McCloughan (the wife of the former Commanders general manger Scot McCloughan), and several former employees. The McCloughan document request was ruled “far beyond any related to the defamatory MEAWW article,” by a federal judge, according to committee investigators.
Judge referred to the subpoena request as “improper, unnecessaryly invasive”, and said it was less of a genuine effort to get evidence to support the Indian Action claims than an attempt to harass and burden individuals who were formerly associated to the Washington Football. Team Sources for The Washington Post may include individuals who might have been involved in their creation.
Investigators from the Committee claim that Snyder also “targeted Allen” with a petition filed under Arizona. Snyder's lawyers claimed to the court that the documents would show Allen as a source of reports by the Washington Post. Investigators found that Snyder's lawyers collected over 400,000 emails from Allen’s inactive Commanders email address and gave them to Wilkinson and the NFL.
Representatives from the NFL told the committee that Snyder's lawyers “identified the specific inappropriate Bruce Allen email in an attempt to prove that Bruce Allen had created toxic environment at Washington Commanders.” This prompted a “targeted analysis” of Allen's emails, which led to the NFL's examination of “troubling conversations between Mr. Allen and former Raiders Coach Jon Gruden. [NFL lawyer] According to the memo, Jeff Pash was fired. After being leaked to the media last summer, Gruden was fired.
According to the memo, Wilkinson's law office provided at least 16 briefings to the NFL on her findings, including at most four written briefings. Goodell was also “personally briefed” at minimum twice. Goodell stated in prepared remarks that he did not receive a written report from Ms. Wilkinson.
The memo also contains allegations made by David Pauken (the Commanders' chief operational officer from 2001-2006), who stated to the committee that Snyder knew of sexual harassment against female employees, but refused to take action. He personally decided to fire female employees who had consensual relationships to male employees, and sexualized and disowned cheerleaders.
According to the memo of the committee, “Pauken stated that Mr. Snyder was responsible overly sexualizing the cheerleading program and ridiculed Mr. Pauken because he disagreed with his vision.”
Pauken testified to Congress that he was not happy with the NFL's sexualization of cheerleaders. Pauken, Snyder and another team executive testified Pauken that they pushed for sponsors and suite holders to have access to cheerleader photo sessions as a way to sell the experience.
Pauken said, “I never allowed it,”
Pauken described how Snyder repeatedly asked Pauken about his sexuality, asking Pauken whether he “liked girls.” Pauken stated that anyone who likes cheerleaders likes girls. If you don’t like cheerleaders and you don’t like them, then maybe you don’t like girls. I understood that he meant it.
Pauken also said that Snyder “objectified Commanders cheerleaders, and made crass remarks about their physical appearance,” according the committee memo. Pauken, who was summoned to Snyder’s box prior to a game, testified that Snyder made a comment to a friend: “Do you think Dave gay?” The friend replied, “Yeah, he must be gay,”
Pauken's testimony said Snyder “would say yes, he must have to be gay.” These cheerleaders are as horrible as they come. Pauken are you gay? You must be gay. It is impossible to have cheerleading teams that look like this.
According to the memo, evidence was presented by the committee that Snyder ordered two cheerleaders fired for “engaging romantic relationships” and Chris Cooley. Pauken said that he discovered the relationships and shared them with Snyder who then made the decision to fire both cheerleaders.
Pauken's testimony states that “the female employees were fired and the male employee was — there was no repercussions except for him being restricted from additional sex among the cheerleaders.”
According to the memo from the committee, Nyder's firing was part of a trend of firing female employees who had consensual relationships with male football players in an effort to “minimize distractions and temptations for players.”
Pauken told investigators in his testimony that Snyder didn't take any action against Snyder when he learned that Snyder had groped an employee of public relations. Instead, Snyder directed the person who had been groped “stay away from the Coach.”
Pauken said to the committee, “I understood the importance of important things.” [Snyder]. We were not going to interrupt the work of this new coach. So we decided to do our best to resolve the issue.
Brian Lafemina (another former chief operating officers) told investigators that in 2018 a subordinate reported feeling uncomfortable with Larry Michael. He was the former “Voice of the Washington Commanders” and had kissed her on the forehead, touched the cheeks, and made comments on her appearance.
Lafemina said that Snyder told him that he was a sweetheart, and that Larry would never hurt anyone.
Staff of the committee stated in a memo that Michael was accused, by multiple employees, of sexual misconduct over several years. According the materials presented by NFL to the committee material, Michael was recorded on video making lewd statements about a Commanders intern.
Michael resigned shortly before the Washington Post reported on his 2020 allegations.
The memo shared information from Jason Friedman's deposition. Friedman was a former employee who testified against the team on financial improprieties. He sent a letter detailing his experience with Snyder pushing Tiffani Johnston into a waiting limousine after Snyder placed his hand under her table at work 13 years ago.
Friedman claimed that Snyder's team culture “glorified womanizing and drinking” and that Snyder personally “pressured employees into excessive drinking,” according to the memo.
Friedman stated that people were afraid of losing their jobs after seeing so many other people lose their jobs.