Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell were asked to testify at a June 22 congressional hearing.
Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-New York), chair of the Oversight and Reform Committee, and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Illinois), chair of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, announced Wednesday morning the committee sent letters to the two men requesting their presence at the hearing.
With his announcement, the Oversight and Reform Committee is expanding the scope of its congressional investigation to include the league. In a statement, the June 22 hearing will also consider “the NFL’s role in setting and enforcing standards across the League, and the legislative reforms needed to address these issues in the NFL and other venues.” of work”. The committee has been investigating the hostile work culture of commanders since October.
“The NFL really needs to answer the question of why it conducted the investigation the way it did and why didn’t it provide transparency on how the investigation was conducted,” he said. Krishnamoorth told ESPN.
He said that if they refused to testify, “all options are on the table. Subpoena and mandatory procedure are also options available to the committee.”
Krishnamoorthi said the fact that there is a lot of public interest in this – as well as public pressure – should underline the urgency of testifying.
“It’s in their interest to come and tell their own side of the story in a way that they would find enlightening for us,” he said. “What I often find on Capitol Hill is that when a party comes forward voluntarily instead of being subpoenaed, they end up having a better chance of being able to explain the situation rather than the events beyond them. “
The NFL said it would respond to Goodell’s request to testify “in a timely manner.”
“The NFL has cooperated extensively throughout the Committee’s lengthy investigation of Washington commanders, including producing more than 460,000 pages of documents and responding to numerous questions in writing and in conversations with Committee staff.” , league spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement.
Last June, the NFL fined commanders $10 million following its investigation, led by Wilkinson, into the franchise’s work culture. Last October, Maloney and Krishnamoorthi sent a letter to Goodell requesting all documents related to the investigation. Goodell, however, said the full report on the investigation will not be released to protect the anonymity of those who cooperated with the investigation.
The Washington Post reported in November that Snyder tried to block Wilkinson from interviewing a woman who accused the landlord of sexual misconduct in 2009. The woman eventually received a $1.6 million settlement. Goodell, however, denied that Snyder obstructed the league’s investigation.
“We are pleased that the House Oversight Committee has invited Dan Snyder and Roger Goodell to testify before the committee,” attorneys Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, who represent former Washington franchise employees, said in a statement. . “We hope they will show the same courage as our clients and agree to testify. Dan Snyder and Roger Goodell have a lot to answer.”
In February, at a congressional roundtable, Tiffani Johnston, the team’s former marketing and events coordinator, made a new allegation against Snyder, accusing him of touching her without her consent during a work dinner about 13 years ago. Snyder released a statement denying his allegations. The NFL has launched an investigation into the allegations.
In April, the Oversight and Reform Committee sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission and several attorneys general alleging that commanders had failed to repay security deposits, concealed income, and kept two sets of financial books. The allegations of financial irregularities were made by former longtime employee Jason Friedman, who on March 14 met with committee members as part of his investigation into the team’s work culture. The FTC told ESPN it could neither “confirm nor deny” whether it had launched an investigation as a result of the committee’s letter.
Commanders have denied the allegations. Virginia and DC attorneys general announced last month that they would open an investigation into the allegations. Also in April, the New York Attorney General sent a letter to the NFL on behalf of a coalition of six other attorneys general asking the league “to respond to recent allegations of workplace unfairness” and ” a culture of sexism and widespread workplace discrimination within the NFL, including but not limited to sexual harassment, targeted retaliation and harmful stereotyping.”
In response, the NFL said in a statement April 6, “We share the Attorneys General’s commitment to ensuring that all of our workplaces, including the league office and 32 clubs, are diverse, inclusive and free from discrimination and harassment. We have made great strides over the years in support of this commitment, but recognize that we, like many organizations, still have work to do. We look forward to sharing with the attorneys general the policies, practices, protocols, education programs and partnerships we have put in place to follow through on this commitment and confirm that the league office and our clubs maintain a respectful workplace where all of our employees, including women, have the opportunity to thrive.”
From the start, Republicans have argued that the committee should not investigate the situation, saying it should be left to the courts. Republican committee spokesman Austin Hacker emphasized this again on Wednesday.
“The Democrats’ bogus investigation of Washington commanders is an abuse of congressional oversight,” he said. “There is nothing Congress can do to address the specific allegations made. If Congress cannot provide a solution, why are Democrats wasting precious resources and holding a hearing?”