Congress investigates allegations of financial irregularities by commanders

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The financial investigation remains behind closed doors and among the highest levels of the 45-person committee at this stage. Asked about this new phase, several panel members said they had heard speculation about it, but said it remained at such a sensitive phase that they did not know the details. The other members were unaware.

“The team is not aware of any investigation by the House Oversight Committee into financial matters, despite vague and unsubstantiated claims today by unnamed sources,” a spokesman for the commanders said. “The team categorically denies any suggestion of financial impropriety of any kind at any time. We adhere to strict internal processes which comply with industry standards and accounting standards, are audited annually by a firm respected independent auditing firm and are also subject to regular audits by the NFL.We continue to cooperate fully with the work of the Committee.

The committee’s review of alleged financial irregularities in team operations comes amid the NFL’s second investigation into Snyder’s team or behavior in the past 19 months.

The current NFL investigation — led by Mary Jo White, a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and former chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission — was prompted by an allegation of sexual misconduct against Snyder that aired during of a public round table organized by the oversight committee on 3 February. During the proceedings, Tiffani Johnston, a former cheerleader and team marketing executive, told members of Congress that Snyder harassed her at a team dinner, putting his hand on her thigh. and hurrying her to his limo afterwards. . In a statement, Snyder called Johnston’s allegations “outright lies.”

When asked if the panel was looking into allegations of financial impropriety, a spokesperson for the committee said: ‘The committee continues to investigate the hostile workplace and culture of impunity among Washington commanders. , as well as the National Football League’s inadequate response and lack of transparency. The Committee will follow the facts wherever they lead.

The House Oversight Committee launched its investigation into the team in October, after some members expressed dissatisfaction with a perceived lack of transparency in the NFL’s investigation into the team’s workplace, which was directed by Beth Wilkinson and began in the summer of 2020.

Following Wilkinson’s 10-month investigation, the NFL fined the team $10 million in July and announced that Snyder’s wife, Tanya, the team’s co-CEO, would take over the day-to-day operations of the franchise for an indefinite period. The NFL did not release Wilkinson’s findings, saying she was asked to deliver her findings orally rather than in writing.

The committee asked the NFL to turn over all documents and information related to Wilkinson’s work, as well as its findings. Frustrated by what it called partial compliance on the part of the NFL, the committee set a second deadline for all requested documents and threatened to take further action in February on anything that was not part of it. . In a February letter to the House committee, the NFL wrote that commanders were denying access to approximately 109,000 requested documents related to Wilkinson’s investigation. A lawyer for Snyder denied the claim.

The House Oversight Committee is the investigative arm of Congress, and its chairwoman, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (DN.Y.), has subpoena power to compel the production of documents not voluntarily provided. and the power to call hearings on matters of public interest. interest. There is some disagreement among the members, largely along party lines, over whether the internal dynamics of a professional football team deserve committee attention.

While the committee remains focused on the work culture of commanders and the NFL’s handling of allegations of widespread sexual misconduct within the franchise, the financial allegations come amid indications the NFL is growing tired of defending Snyder. .

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell publicly chastised Snyder for announcing during Super Bowl week that the team would handle the investigation of Johnston’s allegations. Goodell said instead that the NFL would do so via an independent investigator because it would be inappropriate for the team to investigate on its own.

At the NFL’s annual meetings on Tuesday in Palm Beach, Fla., Goodell said Tanya Snyder would continue to oversee day-to-day team functions and represent commanders at league meetings “at least for the foreseeable future.”

The Commanders are worth $4.2 billion, according to Forbes. While in his 30s, Snyder led an investment group that bought the team and its stadium for $800 million in 1999.

After an acrimonious dispute with his second set of team sponsors in 2020, Snyder was granted an NFL debt cap waiver in March 2021 that allowed him to buy out his partners’ combined 40% stake for approximately $875 million.

The deal put ownership of the team entirely in the hands of Snyder and his family members, but saddled him with an additional $450 million in debt at a time when the Commanders fanbase s is eroding. The NFL’s top team in the early 2000s, the Commanders ranked 31st among the league’s 32 home teams last season, ahead of only the Detroit Lions.

Anheuser-Busch, the official beer sponsor of the NFL and more than two dozen of its teams, acknowledged in a mid-March statement to The Washington Post that it was ending its partnership with the Commanders.

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