Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder and his legal team "launched a shadow investigation" in an apparent effort to discredit and target his accusers and former team employees and offer an alternative target for the NFL's investigation into the organization's toxic workplace culture, according to the findings of an investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
The findings, detailed in a 29-page memo by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, accuse Snyder and his lawyers of attempting to convince the NFL and investigator Beth Wilkinson that former team president Bruce Allen "had created a toxic environment" within the organization. The document also details the lengths Snyder and his team went to target "journalists, victims, and witnesses" detailing "private communications and social media activity."
The goal was to "craft an exculpatory narrative to present to the NFL showing that [Snyder] was not responsible for the Commanders' toxic work environment but instead was the victim of a coordinated smear campaign," Rep. Maloney's memo reads.
The memo to other members of the committee comes ahead of today's hearing on the team's workplace culture at which NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will testify, but Snyder has declined to appear, citing scheduling conflicts among other reasons.
The NFL was aware of the actions taken by Snyder and his legal team and failed to "take meaningful steps to prevent them," the memo said. The league was briefed on the findings of the Wilkinson investigation 16 times between Aug. 2020 and June 2021, including two personal briefings with commissioner Goodell and four written briefings.
Rep. Maloney's memo indicates the efforts by Snyder were an attempt to "conceal or distract from his own role" in "creating and fostering the Commanders' toxic workplace."
One such piece of evidence comes from the testimony of former Chief Operating Officer David Pauken, who testified that when Snyder learned of a member of the coaching staff groping a public relations employee, the owner "refused to take action against the coach and instead directed that the victim 'stay away from the coach.'"
Pauken also explained Snyder "fired female employees who engaged in consensual relations with male members of the team's football operations" and said in one instance where a female employee was fired, there were no repercussions for the male employee "other than he was restricted from additional sex with the cheerleaders."
Former employee Jason Friedman described the team's culture as "glorified drinking and womanizing." He said that Snyder used fear to prevent employees from speaking up about the workplace culture: “The silence was the enabler and the silence was driven by fear, and that fear was justified by actions. It was not concocted. People were afraid to lose their jobs because they had seen so many others lose their jobs.”
"Bound together by an agreement to pursue a common interest and a joint legal strategy, the NFL and Commanders ultimately buried Ms. Wilkisnon's findings," the memo reads.
Read the full 29-page memo here.