JUNE 20: Goodell has agreed to testify at Wednesday’s hearing, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). Goodell will testify remotely, however. Snyder’s refusal to testify this week prompted a Committee response.
“If Mr. Snyder was truly committed to cooperating with the Committee’s investigation, he would have accepted the Committee’s invitation to testify about the Commanders’ toxic workplace culture,” a Committee spokesperson said, via Keim. “As the Chairwoman’s letter made clear, the Committee has been more than accommodating — even allowing Mr. Snyder to testify remotely from France. His refusal to testify sends an unmistakable signal that Mr. Snyder has something to hide and is afraid of coming clean to the American public and addressing major worker protection concerns facing the NFL.”
JUNE 15: Snyder has turned down the Oversight Committee’s request. Indicating he will be out of the country June 22, the Commanders owner will not testify, John Keim of ESPN.com reports. This had been the long-expected outcome, Keim adds. A letter from attorney Karen Patton Seymour notes Snyder had a “longstanding Commanders-related business conflict and is out of the country on the first and only date the Committee has proposed for the hearing.”
The letter also indicates Snyder would be willing to testify if the date is changed. The Committee intends to move forward with the hearing, absent the embattled owner. It is not yet known if Goodell will testify before the Committee next week.
JUNE 1: The subject of the Washington Commanders’ workplace culture continues to be an issue for the NFL. Wednesday, the House Oversight Committee, which has been investigating the Commanders for months, invited Daniel Snyder and Roger Goodell to testify in a June 22 hearing.
Snyder’s long-scrutinized tenure as the NFC East franchise’s owner has become an increasingly higher-profile topic for the league. Rumors of frustration among other owners, due to the Snyder-centered scandals that have emerged in recent years, have emerged. Wednesday’s development will certainly not cool anything down.
“The hearing is the next step in the Committee’s months-long investigation into the Commanders’ hostile workplace culture and will also examine the NFL’s handling of allegations of workplace misconduct, the NFL’s role in setting and enforcing standards across the league, and legislative reforms needed to address these issues across the NFL and other workplaces,” the Committee said in its statement.
Last year, the NFL fined Snyder $10MM as a result of an investigation into sexual harassment allegations from 15 former Washington Football Team employees. The fallout from this proved controversial for the league, which did not produce a written report of the findings. The NFL also did not suspend Snyder, who took a backseat to his wife, Tanya, regarding day-to-day operations. This came under the purview of Congress late last year, when it began its own investigation.
“Since we launched our investigation in October, the Committee’s goal has been to uncover the truth about the culture of harassment and abuse at the Washington Commanders, to hold accountable those responsible, and to better protect workers across the country,” said New York Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Committee chairwoman. “The Committee has worked tirelessly to obtain critical information, including the findings of the internal investigation conducted by attorney Beth Wilkinson, only to be met with obstruction from the Commanders and the NFL at every turn.
“We must have transparency and accountability, which is why we are calling on Mr. Goodell and Mr. Snyder to answer the questions they have dodged for the last seven months. The hearing will explore how Congress can act to prevent employers from silencing victims of workplace misconduct and ensure that what happened at the Commanders organization does not happen again.”
Issuing similar statements, the Commanders and the NFL said they would issue responses to the invites “in a timely manner,” via Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter links). The Commanders’ statement indicated they have complied with all previous Committee requests.
Wilkinson’s investigation lasted 10 months; the Oversight Committee’s ensuing probe is approaching that benchmark. The Federal Trade Commission has also been investigating the Commanders’ alleged financial wrongdoing, adding to the turmoil currently engulfing Snyder. Attorneys general in Virginia and Washington D.C. announced subsequent investigations into this matter. The team has denied those allegations. Earlier this year, the NFL launched an investigation into this matter as well.
The embattled owner may not be on the verge of losing his team, one he has owned since 1999, but these controversies continue to generate concern among Snyder’s peers. An actual suspension for the Commanders owner has been floated. The forthcoming hearing will not help matters on this front.