Commanders Owner Dan Snyder Declines To Appear Before Congress

With the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s investigation into NFL workplace misconduct heating up, they may not have a key witness at their planned June 22 hearing. Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder, under fire for potential harassment and revenue fraud, has stated he will not be testifying.

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In a four-page letter obtained by Axios, Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder has informed the House Oversight and Reform Committee that he will not be attending the June 22 hearing on workplace misconduct in the NFL  due to him being out of the country.

“Although Mr. Snyder remains willing to cooperate with the Committee — as he has done in the past — for the reasons set forth below, he is unable to accept the Committee’s invitation to testify at the scheduled hearing,” Snyder’s attorney, Karen Patton Seymour, stated in the letter.

Seymour added that the Committee was unwilling to change the date of the hearing, while a committee spokesperson stated that it “intends to move forward with this hearing.” “We are currently reviewing Mr. Snyder’s letter and will respond,” they said.

According to the Washington Post, Washington offered to send another “knowledgeable witness” in place of Snyder, adding that given the person’s position and involvement in day-to-day operations, they would be in “a far better position to answer questions about the workplace culture.”

“It goes against fundamental notions of fairness and due process to decline to provide such basic information that would enable a witness to defend himself or even respond fully during a public hearing, particularly in light of pending investigations addressing similar allegations.”

Of course, a questionably-timed businesses trip isn’t Snyder’s only excuse for not attending. Seymour explained the Committee has not recognized Snyder’s “interests in a manner consistent with fundamental fairness and due process” that comes from the Committee not giving Snyder “basic information” that would help him to defend himself.

While painting Snyder in a certainly ideal light — labeling him a “trailblazer” for the NFL and a leader in the league’s diversity and inclusion efforts —  it also downplayed a prior witness and Snyder’s alleged actions, which were stressed to have happened “over a decade ago.”

Snyder’s reported history certainly disputes the model owner Seymour described him as. Congress has now been investigating Washington and the NFL’s handling of the allegations against Snyder and Washington. Among the accusations include hazing and sexual harassment. In one instance, team leaders and other prominent football figures emailed each other photos of Washington cheerleaders’ bare breasts.

The Committee also alleged that Snyder may have “engaged in an unlawful financial conduct” by failing to report ticket revenue and withholding refundable deposits from season subscribers. According to the Committee, the team withheld up to $5 million from 2,000 season ticket holders in 2016.

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“We fully expect the Committee will issue a subpoena to compel Mr. Snyder to appear. It is time that Mr. Snyder learns that he is not above the law.”

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Those allegations came to light from former team vice president of sales and customer service, Jason Friedman, who told lawmakers the team kept “two sets of books.” The league requires teams to report their ticket revenue so it can be shared amongst all the teams.

40% of that ticket revenue is deposited in a visiting team’s fund, which means Snyder is running the risk of losing any support from fellow owners he has left. That could result in a potential vote that would force him to sell the team.

The NFL stated it cooperated by giving the Committee more than 460,000 documents in regards to the initial investigation. Unlike Snyder, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has accepted to testify on June 22, though his appearance will be virtual.

There is a chance that the hearing could still be moved, or that the court could issue Snyder a subpoena to appear, something attorneys Lisa Banks and Debra Katz — who represent the more than 40 former Commanders employees accusing Snyder — suspect will happen.

For Washington fans, the organization’s operations continue to frustrate. Among the notable unfoldings includes star receiver Terry McLaurin sitting out over a contract dispute. The 26-year-old has been Washington’s standout over the past couple seasons, totaling 3090 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns since 2019.

Despite McLaurin’s production, the team has opted not to meet his demands, though head coach Ron Rivera has bluntly stated the team isn’t trading him, and instead view McLaurin as the key to rebuilding Washington’s culture.