Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington Leaders, conducted a “shadow investigation” into allegations that he fostered a toxic work culture within his organization and worked closely with the NFL to monitor findings from a formal internal investigation, and ultimately bury them, according to the findings of an investigation released by a House committee. Democrat-led America on Wednesday.
The U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee released a 29-page memo about its findings, backed up by more than 600 pages of affidavits, the morning NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was due to testify.
Among the other allegations in the memo, the commission’s eight-month investigation found evidence that Snyder used subpoena power available to parties involved in foreign lawsuits to obtain correspondence from former President Bruce Allen and other former employees. The goal, according to the memo, was to file a case with the NFL that Allen was responsible for the team’s toxic work environment, and that former employees were conspiring to disparage him.
The panel says Snyder used the leaders’ mutual interest agreement and the NFL to “try to steer the direction” of the team’s independent investigation led by attorney Beth Wilkinson and to discredit the accused, including those named in the Washington reports. Then, by providing the NFL and Wilkinson with “insulting information about them.”
Snyder repeatedly refused to appear at Wednesday’s hearing, telling the committee that he would be out of the country for work.
When asked for comment on Wednesday, the NFL provided a copy of Goodell’s prepared notes to the committee, in which he reiterated his assertions that “the workplace in Washington was unprofessional and unacceptable in many ways,” and that “the workplace in leaders today holds nothing .an analogy with the workplace described for this commission.”
Snyder’s representatives and leaders did not immediately comment to ESPN on Wednesday. A spokesman for the committee’s top Republican member, James Comer (R-Kentucky), who has been outspoken about Congress’s lack of involvement in the investigation of the leaders, declined to comment on the memo on Wednesday.
According to the memo, prepared by Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Snyder and his attorneys compiled a “100 slide file” in November 2020 “that appears to be based on text messages, emails, phone records, private calls, texts and social media posts of what Approximately 50 people.
Snyder’s attorneys submitted 100 slides, which also included information on Washington Post journalists, to the NFL and Wilkinson’s team, according to the memo, with the goal of “crafting an exoneration narrative to present to the NFL that shows that he is not responsible for the leaders’ toxic work environment but instead She was the victim of a coordinated smear campaign.”
In the memo, commission investigators detailed how Snyder’s attorney obtained some of the private information used in the file. In 2020, Snyder filed a defamation suit against Media Entertainment Arts Worldwide (MEAWW), which is based in India. As part of that lawsuit, Snyder used “a powerful litigation tool available to parties to a foreign proceeding to coerce phone records, emails, and other documents from former employees and other individuals,” according to the memo.
“A careful examination of Mr. Snyder. [petitions] He notes that his focus was not on discovering the sources of the MEAWW articles but on those who were behind the Washington Post’s dissidents,” the note states.
Commission investigators list several former employees who received subpoenas, as well as Jessica McLugan, wife of former Chiefs General Manager Scott McClughan. Commission investigators highlighted how a federal judge ruled that requests for McCloughan’s documents went “beyond anything related to the defamatory MEAWW articles.”
The judge called the subpoena’s attempt “unnecessarily indecent and invasive” and “may be less an honest effort to obtain evidence supporting the allegations in the Indian proceeding, than it is an attempt to establish the burden on and harassment of individuals formerly associated with the Washington football team.” He may have served as a source for the Washington Post.”
Commission investigators say Snyder “targeted” Allen in a petition filed in Arizona, where Snyder’s attorneys told the court that the documents would reveal Allen as the source of the reports provided by the Washington Post. Investigators noted that Snyder’s attorneys collected 400,000 emails from Allen’s inactive email account, and submitted them to the NFL and Wilkinson.
NFL representatives told committee staff that Snyder’s attorneys “identified specific inappropriate emails to Bruce Allen in an effort to demonstrate that Bruce Allen created a toxic environment in Washington leaders,” which led to a “targeted review” of Allen’s emails by the NFL. NFL, which in turn led to an examination of “disturbing exchanges between Mr. Allen, former Raiders coach John Gruden, and [NFL lawyer] Jeff Bash, according to the memo. Those emails led to Groden’s firing after they were leaked to the media last year.
The memo states that the NFL received at least 16 briefings from the Wilkinson law firm about its findings between August 2020 and June 2021, including at least four written briefings, and that Goodell was “briefed in person” at least twice. “We have not received a written report of Mrs. Wilkinson’s findings,” Goodell said in his prepared notes.
The memo also details allegations from David Bowkin, chief operating officer of Commands from 2001 to 2006, who told the committee that Snyder knew of sexual harassment against female employees but refused to take action, and personally made the decision to fire female employees who participated in consensual relationships with male employees and cheerleaders who They have sex and belittle sex.
According to the committee memo, “Pauken testified that Mr. Snyder was responsible for the excessively sexual nature of the cheerleading program and ridiculed Mr. Pauken for opposing his vision.”
Testifying before Congress, Baukin stated that he was uncomfortable with “the way the NFL is sexualizing fans.” Pauken testified that Snyder, along with another team executive, pushed the team to present sponsors and a winger to fan photo shoots as a “sellable experience.”
“I never would have allowed it,” Pauquin testified.
Bowkin also described how Snyder repeatedly questioned Buckin’s sexuality by asking him if he “likes girls.” Paukin explained in his testimony, “Anyone who likes girls likes cheerleaders, and if you’re not, if you’re uncomfortable with cheerleaders, you probably don’t like girls. That was my understanding of what he was going for who-that.”
Baukin also described how Snyder “molded the leaders’ fans and made rude comments about their physical appearance,” according to the panel’s memo. When he was called to Snyder’s chest before the game, Bowen witnessed how Snyder said to a friend, “Do you think Dave is gay?” The friend replied: Yes, he must be gay.
According to Pauken’s testimony, Snyder would “say, yes, he must be gay. As ugly as these fans are. Pauken are you gay? You must be gay. How do you get a cheerleader squad to look like that?”
The panel found evidence that Snyder ordered the expulsion of two cheerleaders for “entering into romantic relationships” with ex-Chris Cooley, according to the memo. Pauken testified that when he learned of the relationships, he shared them with Snyder, who made the decision to fire both cheerleaders.
“The female employees were fired, and the employee was–there were no repercussions other than that he was forbidden to have extra sex with the cheerleaders,” Buchen said.
The committee’s memo states that “Snyder’s decision was part of a pattern of dismissal of female employees who engaged in consensual sexual relations with members of the team’s football operations team in order to ‘reduce distractions and temptations for players’.”
In his testimony, Baukin also told commission investigators that when Snyder learned that a member of the team’s coaching staff had touched a PR employee, Snyder refused to take action against the coach and instead directed the touched employee to “stay away from an athletic coach.”
“I knew the things that were important to me,” Baukin told the committee [Snyder]. He was a new coach and we are not going to stop that new coach. And so we were going to get rid of the problem as best we could.”
Brian Lafemina, a former chief of operations, told commission investigators while testifying that in 2018, a subordinate reported his discomfort with interacting with Larry Michael, the former “voice of Washington commanders,” after Michael kissed her on the forehead, her on the cheeks and made comments about her appearance.
Lafemina testified that when he told Snyder, he replied, “Larry was a lover and that Larry would never hurt anyone.”
Commission staff members stated in their memo that Michael had been accused of sexual misconduct by several staff members over several years, and according to materials the NFL submitted to the commission, he was caught on videotape making obscene remarks about an intern captain.
Michael resigned shortly after the Washington Post first reported allegations against him in 2020.
The commission’s memo also released details from the filing of Jason Friedman, the former employee who accused the team of financial misconduct during his testimony and sent a letter to Congress stating that he witnessed Snyder trying to push another former employee, Tiffany Johnston, into a waiting limousine. After Snyder put his hand on his thigh under a work dinner table about 13 years ago.
Friedman told congressional investigators that the team’s culture “glorifies drinking and feminization” and that Snyder personally “pressure the staff to binge drinking,” according to the memo.
“People were afraid of losing their jobs because they saw so many others losing theirs,” Friedman testified.