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Congress alleges ‘ghost’ investigation by Commanders owner Snyder

Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder conducted a ‘shadow investigation’ that sought to discredit former employees accusing of workplace sexual harassment, hired private investigators to intimidate witnesses and used an overseas lawsuit as a pretext to obtain phone records and emails, according to a document. released by a House committee on Wednesday.

The Oversight and Reform Committee is investigating the work culture of commanders following accusations of widespread sexual harassment by female employee team executives. He released the memo ahead of a Wednesday morning hearing in which NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was scheduled to testify remotely. Snyder was asked to testify but declined, citing overseas business commitments and due process concerns.

The 29-page memo alleges that Snyder attempted to discredit people accusing him and other team leaders of misconduct and also tried to influence a firm’s investigation of the team. by attorney Beth Wilkinson.

Snyder’s attorneys presented the NFL with a 100-slide PowerPoint presentation that included “private text messages, emails, phone logs and call transcripts, and social media posts from nearly 50 people who, according to Mr. Snyder, were apparently involved in a conspiracy to disparage him.” said the committee.

A spokeswoman for the commanders had no immediate comment on the committee’s findings.

The NFL fined the team $10 million last year and Snyder stepped down from day-to-day operations after Wilkinson presented his findings to Goodell. However, the league has not released a written report of Wilkinson’s findings, a move Goodell said was intended to protect the privacy of former employees who spoke to investigators.

When announcing the discipline, the NFL said none of those accused of sexual harassment still worked for the Washington franchise. But two separate accusations of sexual harassment by Snyder himself have since surfaced.

Former employee Tiffani Johnston told the committee that Snyder groped her at a team dinner and tried to force her into his limo, which Snyder denies. And The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that a woman accused Snyder of sexually assaulting her on a team plane in 2009, resulting in a $1.6 million settlement.

Johnston’s allegation prompted the NFL to hire former Securities and Exchange Commission chairwoman Mary Jo White to conduct a new investigation into Snyder and the team, and the league plans to make its findings public.

House committee chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney, DN.Y., introduced legislation to limit the use of nondisclosure agreements in the workplace and provide protections for employees whose professional images are used inappropriately. Among the charges against the commanders are that team employees produced a video of lewd filming during a photo shoot involving the cheerleading squad.

According to the memo, Snyder used a defamation lawsuit against an obscure India-based online media company as a pretext to subpoena emails, phone records and text messages from former employees who spoke to the Washington. Workplace harassment post. The subpoenas were unusually broad and many of those targeted “had no plausible connection” to the Indian media company, the committee said.

The committee also alleged that Snyder sought to blame former team president Bruce Allen for problems with Washington’s work culture and that Snyder’s lawyers provided Wilkinson and the NFL with 400,000 emails from the Allen’s account, highlighting those they deemed “inappropriate”. Some email exchanges with Allen included homophobic and misogynistic comments by Jon Gruden, which leaked to reporters last fall and prompted the Las Vegas Raiders to fire Gruden as coach.

Witnesses also told the committee that Snyder sent private investigators to their home and offered them silent money. The NFL was aware of Snyder’s use of private investigators, according to documents obtained by the committee, but that did not stop the practice, witnesses said.

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