Owner Daniel Snyder and the Washington Commanders were once again placed under a microscope this past February stemming from widespread allegations of workplace misconduct.
The bipartisan U.S. House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee held a roundtable discussion on the longstanding allegations against Snyder and his organization — allegations that resulted in a multi-million dollar fine being levied against Washington by the NFL.
In said discussion, six former members of the organization came forward and accused Daniel Snyder himself of wrongdoing with explosive new allegations.
Brad Baker, Washington’s former video production manager, claims that he and other staff members were “told to edit together lewd footage from the Beauties on the Beach calendar documentary at the request of Daniel Snyder.” The cheerleaders claim that their “breasts and pubic areas were exposed” in the shoot, via CBS Sports.
Former Washington cheerleader and director of marketing, Melanie Coburn, backed up these allegations. She claims that the videos were “secretly made” as “essentially soft-porn video, soundtracked to Daniel Snyder’s favorite bands.” In the discussion with the committee, Coburn alleges she was invited to sleep at the owner’s home in Colorado after a drunken “awards trip” dinner. She was allegedly asked to stay in the basement “because the men had invited prostitutes back.”
Another former Washington employee, Tiffani A. Johnston, also claims that Snyder sexually harassed her during a team dinner by putting his hand on her thigh and trying to get her to join him in his limo. These are now direct allegations against the embattled owner.
If this weren’t enough, things have not gotten any better for Mr. Snyder as the 2022 calendar year has progressed. In mid-April, the bipartisan House Committee on Oversight and Reform sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) detailing alleged unlawful financial misconduct on the part of Daniel Snyder and his organization.
These scandals are becoming too widespread for the NFL to ignore despite the fact that commissioner Roger Goodell and the league has allowed him to retain day-to-day operations control after a long hiatus.
Daniel Snyder, Washington Commanders in hot water over misconduct allegations
In the committee discussion, five former members of the organization claimed sexual harassment on a large-scale basis when they were employed by the Washington organization. It really is eye-opening.
“These victims are bravely coming forward with their stories, sharing details of despicable abuse in their workplace,” said Committee member Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) in a statement, via a Washington CBS News affiliate. “The WFT and NFL had a responsibility to protect these employees, and they failed. This Committee will do everything in its power to protect employees at the WFT and beyond.”
The allegations continued in a public forum, and painted the Commanders in a terrible light.
A Washington Post report from all the way back in July of 2020 pointed to a widespread culture of sexual harassment within the then-Washington Football Team organization. This opened the levees when it came to further reporting on the toxic environment in Maryland.
“The allegations raised by Applegate and others — running from 2006 to 2019 — span most of Snyder’s tenure as owner and fall into two categories: unwelcome overtures or comments of a sexual nature, and exhortations to wear revealing clothing and flirt with clients to close sales deals. Among the men accused of harassment and verbal abuse are three former members of Snyder’s inner circle and two longtime members of the personnel department.”Washington Post report (July 2020)
A report back in October of last year then pointed to Washington offering up hush money to bury the sexual harassment scandal.
“Lawyers representing the Washington Football Team offered a financial settlement earlier this year in exchange for the silence of female former team employees who allege they endured sexual harassment while working there, according to two former employees.”Washington Post report (October 2021)
This came after an investigation by the NFL into the allegations resulted in Daniel Snyder and the Washington organization being fined a mere $10 million. There was no other action taken on the part of the league, leading to more questions about its handling of the investigation itself.
That came to a head during the congressional meeting in February.
“We launched this investigation because the NFL has not been transparent about the workplace misconduct issues it uncovered within [Washington],” the aforementioned Krishnamoorthi said in a statement. “These victims are bravely coming forward with their stories, sharing details of despicable abuse in their workplace. … Our investigation will continue until the perpetrators of sexual harassment are held accountable.”
The NFL investigation resulted in merely an oral report as the league did not want a written report of the findings due to the paper trail that it might bring. At that point, Commissioner Roger Goodell and Co. did not believe that Congress would get involved. It did.
It must also be noted that the Oversight Committee is bipartisan in nature and included Republicans calling out the Washington Commanders, Daniel Snyder specifically. In a resounding show of support for the claimants, Pete Sessions (R-Texas) said that these allegations need to be handled in a court of law and district attorneys should be involved to investigate Snyder and his organization.
Federal Trade Commission could now get involved in Daniel Snyder investigation
“We are writing to share evidence of concerning business practices by the Washington Commanders uncovered during the Committee’s ongoing investigation into workplace misconduct at the team.
Evidence obtained by the Committee, including emails, documents, and statements from former employees, indicate senior executives and the team’s owner, Daniel Snyder, may have engaged in a troubling, long-running, and potentially unlawful pattern of financial conduct that victimized thousands of team fans and the National Football League.”House Committee on Oversight and Reform letter to Federal Trade Commission chair Lina M. Khan (April 12, 2022)
The latter alleges that Daniel Snyder and his organization withheld millions of dollars in refundable security deposits to fans and tooks steps to prevent fans from collecting the deposits.
This comes following previous suggestions that the team also withheld revenue numbers from the NFL and its 31 other teams.
From a legal standpoint, we’re no longer talking about Snyder potentially being forced to sell the team (more on that later). Rather, these allegations are criminal in nature.
“Information and documents obtained by the Committee further suggest that the Commanders concealed revenues that were owed to the NFL as part of a revenue-sharing agreement that redistributes revenues to 32 teams in the League and helps set salaries for the League’s football players.”More on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform letter to the FTC
Will Daniel Snyder be forced to sell the Washington Commanders?
Led by Commissioner Roger Goodell, the NFL is all about optics. As more accusations were levied in Snyder’s direction relating to workplace misconduct allegations, the league released a statement earlier this spring.
“Dan Snyder has not been involved in day-to-day operations. Don’t believe he’s been at the facility at all, and when we continue to have league matters, Tanya (Snyder’s wife) has represented the team as the CEO both on a day-to-day basis, but also here with the league.
She represented the club here and that will continue for at least the foreseeable future, but Dan and I will talk about that at some point.”Roger Goodell on Daniel Snyder situation (March 29)
Dspite this, it was noted earlier in April that Snyder was back in charge of the Washington Commanders — contradicting Goodell’s own words.
Again, we’re talking about optics here. Outside of the terrible allegations of a toxic work environment surrounding his organization, which should have been cause for Snyder being forced to sell, these latest allegations are even more damning.
Why? We’re talking about Snyder and Co. allegedly scamming their own fans out of cash while holding back revenue to the NFL and its 31 other teams.
As a multi-billion dollar business and the largest sports entity in North America, these financial wrongdoings will undoubtedly impact other billion-dollar owners and the league itself. Fair or not, this might actually be the smoking gun.
It’s a double standard given the human cost of the workplace misconduct allegations that have been levied against Daniel Snyder and his organization. But as the NFL has proven over and over again, it’s all about the almighty dollar for the powers that be in New York City.