- The Washington Times
Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder ran a “shadow investigation” in an attempt to discredit his accusers and influence the NFL’s internal investigation of his team’s workplace misconduct, according to a memo from the House Oversight and Reform Committee

The 29-page memo details how the embattled billionaire looked to compile a “dossier” on former team employees, their attorneys and journalists who participated in the probe.

During the inquiry, the committee says, Mr. Snyder and his legal team hired private investigators and tried to offer “hush money” to dissuade those from participating. 

The memo says Mr. Snyder tried to convince the NFL and lead investigator Beth Wilkinson that former team President Bruce Allen was the one responsible for creating a “toxic environment at the Washington Commanders” by identifying former emails that the executive had sent.

The findings were released Wednesday, hours before the committee hosted a hearing in which NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was scheduled to testify remotely about the team’s workplace misconduct. Mr. Snyder denied an invitation to appear. He objected to the format and date of the hearing. 

The memo, which Rep. Carolyn Maloney, New York Democrat and the committee’s chair, sent to the panel’s other members on Tuesday, argues that the NFL‘s investigation was not truly independent. 

Ms. Maloney wrote that the committee discovered that Mr. Snyder’s attorneys made “multiple presentations” to the league during Ms. Wilkinson’s probe. One “involved a 100-page PowerPoint slide detailing the private communications and social media activity of Washington Post journalists and former employees.”

“The 100-slide PowerPoint presentation, dated November 23, 2020, appears to be based on private text messages, emails, phone logs and call transcripts, and social media posts from nearly 50 individuals who Mr. Snyder apparently believed were involved in a conspiracy to disparage him, including Former Staff 1, whom he had accused of plotting against him with a former minority owner,” the memo reads. 

In 2020, Mr. Snyder was entangled in a lengthy legal battle with his now-former minority partners, who looked to sell their 40% shares of the team. After clashing in court, Mr. Snyder and the partners agreed on a deal in which Mr. Snyder purchased the shares for $875 million — giving Mr. Snyder and his family full control of the club. 

The memo further details testimony from former Washington employees who described a toxic workplace culture. David Pauken, a former chief operating officer for the team, told the committee that Mr. Snyder fired female employees for engaging in consensual relationships with male employees while the male employees went unpunished. 

Mr. Pauken also said Mr. Snyder responded to information about a coach groping a female employee by directing the woman to “stay away from the coach.”

Brian Lafemina, another former COO, said he told Mr. Snyder about sexual harassment complaints regarding former play-by-play man Larry Michael.

Mr. Lafemina said Mr. Snyder dismissed the complaints by saying Mr. Michael was a “sweetheart.” Mr. Michael retired from the team in the summer of 2020, just before The Washington Post published an article in which former employees accused him of sexual misconduct. 

The NFL issued a $10 million fine to the Commanders in July 2021 and said Mr. Snyder would voluntarily step away from the day-to-day control of the club for several months. The league has faced criticism for not issuing a written report of Ms. Wilkinson’s findings. 

The House Oversight and Reform Committee began investigating the league and the Commanders last fall. 

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.