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The U.S. House Oversight Committee announced plans to subpoena Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder for his testimony next week despite NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s testimony before the panel on Wednesday that the league thoroughly investigated accusations into the organization’s toxic workplace culture and took the appropriate disciplinary actions.
Goodell offered his testimony before the Committee following its eight-month investigation in which it found Snyder played a significant role in fostering a toxic work environment and pointed to evidence that suggested he impeded the NFL’s independent probe into those allegations.
“The committee launched an investigation last October after the NFL refused to release the findings of an internal investigation into the widespread sexual misconduct at the Washington commanders,” Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, said in her opening statements.
“The committee requested these findings, but the NFL and the commanders have refused to produce them, while also withholding more than 40,000 documents collected in their internal review. This lack of transparency suggests that rather than protecting women, the NFL is hoping to sweep this controversy under the rug just as powerful men like owner Dan Snyder have done for decades.”
Snyder was invited to give his testimony but declined, prompting Maloney to announce plans to subpoena him for his testimony before the Committee next week.
“Rather than show up and take responsibility for his actions, he chose to skip town. Apparently, Mr. Snyder is in France, where he has docked his luxury yacht near a resort town. That should tell you just how much respect he has for women in the workplace,” she said.
In his opening statement, Goodell condemned the workplace culture in Washington but clarified that following the NFL’s investigation, changes were made that have had a notable impact not only in Washington but across the league.
“It is clear to me that the workplace in Washington was unprofessional and unacceptable in numerous respects. Bullying, widespread disrespect toward colleagues, use of demeaning language, public embarrassment, and harassment. Moreover, for a prolonged period of time, the commanders had a woefully deficient H.R. function, particularly with respect to reporting practices and record-keeping,” he said.
During his questioning, Goodell maintained that the league held Snyder accountable including an “unprecedented” $10 million fine on the team.
“As I mentioned in the opening, he faced unprecedented discipline, including financial fines being removed and away from the team at his request for a period of time, up to a year now already. And secondly, and more importantly, a transformation of that organization that has gone on in the last year, which is really important to the employees that are there now,” he said.
The committee released 29-page memo hours before Goodell’s testimony that pointed to evidence that Snyder conducted his own “shadow investigation” meant to discredit and deter accusers and witnesses from participating in the NFL’s independent investigation.
Goodell noted that six weeks after Snyder’s own investigation was taken over by the NFL, the team was instructed by the league not to handle the probe on its own.
“We, as we took over the investigation, made it clear to them that they should not be investigating any of these matters. Secondly, we asked that the commanders reach out to current employees as well as former employees to encourage them to participate. So any efforts to intimidate witnesses or prevent them from doing it would be inconsistent with that,” he said.
Goodell was questioned over the league’s handling of the investigation and its decision not to release a written report, despite previously doing so with different cases and at the protests of several of the accusers who have publicly come forward.
“After hearing some of the questions that have been put forth and your response, it seems to me that the NFL picked a side in this investigation which silenced the voices of employees and allowed Mr. Snyder to peddle his own version of the facts,” Rep. Shontel M. Brown, D-Ohio, said.
Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, the attorneys representing over 40 former Washington Commanders employees, released a statement disputing Goodell’s testimony that Snyder has been held accountable and reiterated their clients’ demands that full findings of the investigation be released.
“Today it was stunning and disheartening to listen to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell insist that Dan Snyder and the Washington Commanders have been held fully accountable for the team’s two-decades-long sexual harassment of female employees,” they said. “This, of course, is not true… To be clear, our clients want and deserve a full accounting of Beth Wilkinson’s findings. Until he agrees to release such findings, Mr. Goodell’s purported concern for the employees who suffered through 20 years of harassment and abuse is a sham.”