- The Washington Times - Monday, March 27, 2023

PHOENIX — Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder is refusing to speak with investigator Mary Jo White as part of the NFL’s investigation into the embattled billionaire and the team, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed. 

The league hired White, the former chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, in February 2022 as new misconduct allegations were being made against Snyder and the team. Tiffani Johnston, a former Washington employee, told members of Congress that Snyder made an unwanted advance by touching her thigh underneath a dinner table and later tried to coax her into his limo. White’s probe also expanded in scope after another former team employee accused the team of financial improprieties. 

The NFL, which declined comment, has said there is no timetable for the investigation to be completed. But the probe remains ongoing as Snyder explores a sale of the team.

“As it’s a confidential matter between the club and the League, we aren’t commenting on it,” a Commanders spokesperson said in a statement.

The Washington Post first reported the news that Snyder has declined multiple requests to be interviewed by White. The paper, citing a source, added that the former U.S. attorney is expected to make at least one more attempt at speaking with Snyder before concluding her probe. 

White’s probe marks the league’s second investigation into Snyder and the team. The league fined the team $10 million in July 2021 for its “toxic” workplace culture and said Snyder would be voluntarily stepping away from day-to-day operations for “several months,” though the NFL drew criticism for not issuing a written report. The NFL has said White will issue a written report when her probe is completed. 

Lisa Banks, an attorney who represents Johnston and more than 40 other former  Washington employees, told The Washington Times that Snyder’s refusal to participate “speaks volumes about his culpability” toward the allegations. 

“It’s not going to stop the investigation and it’s not going to stop Mary Jo White from putting out a report,” Banks said. “What it does call into question is whether the NFL is continuing to protect him by allowing him to avoid participating in an NFL-mandated investigation of him. 

“So to me, it just seems outrageous that the NFL would not force or insist upon him participating in the investigation of him.” 

This wouldn’t be the first time that Snyder has been accused of being uncooperative. Before he sat with the House Oversight and Reform Committee for nearly an 11-hour deposition last July, negotiations between the panel and Snyder’s camp went on for months and frustrated lawmakers who said Snyder was avoiding accepting service of a subpoena. The two sides eventually agreed upon a deposition in which Snyder testified remotely overseas in a virtual setting. 

When the House committee released its final report in December, the then Democrat-led panel accused Snyder of giving “misleading” answers and evading questions by saying that he couldn’t recall or didn’t remember. In the deposition, Snyder denied touching Johnston and other specific allegations. 

At the owners’ meetings, meanwhile, the topic of a potential Commanders sale isn’t officially on the agenda but the subject is expected to be broached by both the league’s finance committee and the owners’ private session. Multiple reports indicate that no deal for a sale is expected to be announced at the gatherings. 

As for White’s probe, Banks said she still has confidence in White — but holds “far less confidence” in the NFL

“From everything I know about this, she truly is at the end and she may just be waiting on Snyder at this point,” Banks said. “I think we’re close to getting a report.” 

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

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