Commanders owner Dan Snyder declines to testify at Oversight hearing
Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder has sent a letter to the House Oversight and Reform Committee declining to testify at the committee’s upcoming hearing on allegations of a hostile work environment against Snyder and his NFL franchise.
In a letter obtained by Axios on Wednesday, Snyder’s attorney Karen Patton Seymour wrote to the panel that her client will remain fully committed to cooperating with the committee’s investigation of the team.
Snyder and his legal team cited their concerns over the committee’s refusal to push back the hearing’s date and due process, noting that the committee has declined to provide Snyder with information about some of the allegations against him made by a former employee of his.
“Yet the Committee’s staff has declined to provide any such information. And of course, Mr. Snyder has no way of knowing what other non-public allegations may have been made against him before this Committee,” Seymour wrote in the letter. “It goes against fundamental notions of fairness and due process to decline to provide such basic information that would enable a witness to defend himself or even respond fully during a public hearing, particularly in light of pending investigations addressing similar allegations.”
Seymour, a partner at legal firm Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, also noted that the Commanders’ organization, formerly known as the Washington Redskins, has made improvements to its workplace culture in the last decade, citing the current role of Snyder’s wife and team co-owner, Tanya Snyder, and the diversity hirings of team president Jason Wright, team general manager Martin Mayhew and Jennifer King, the first full-time Black female coach in NFL history.
“Mr. Snyder, together with Mrs. Snyder and the Team, remain fully willing to cooperate with the Committee in all other respects, including by continuing to discuss the reasonable requests regarding his potential appearance, and by providing information to the Committee about the remarkable changes undertaken by the Commanders to improve and enhance the experience of all Commanders’ employee,” Seymour concluded in her letter.
“Despite months of Mr. Snyder’s cooperation, the Oversight Committee refused to afford the same respect and courtesy by declining multiple reasonable requests surrounding a potential appearance by Mr. Snyder,” a source close to Dan Snyder told The Hill on Wednesday. “Mr. Snyder remains willing to continue cooperating with the Committee but is unable to attend the June 22 hearing given the Committee’s disregard for due process.”
House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), the chairman of the panel’s economic subcommittee, sent a letter to Snyder and the league commissioner Roger Goodell earlier this month, inviting them to testify at a hearing before the committee that was slated for June 22.
The committee launched its investigation into the team in October based on allegations of sexual harassment and workplace misconduct within the Commanders organization and following the resignation of former Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, whose email chain with then-Commanders president Bruce Allen, which contained racist, homophobic and misogynistic language and was a part of the league’s initial probe of the team, was leaked to the public.
The committee also sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission in April detailing evidence that the Commanders and Snyder engaged in a series of financial improprieties.
The league launched its second investigation into the team earlier this year after former cheerleader and marketing manager Tiffani Johnston, while speaking at a House Oversight and Reform Committee roundtable discussion on the matter, accused Snyder of sexually harassing her during a work-related dinner.
A committee spokesperson told The Hill that the panel “intends to move forward” with its scheduled hearing and will review Snyder’s letter.
“We, along with our clients, are disappointed but not surprised that Dan Snyder does not have the courage to appear voluntarily,” Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, the attorneys representing the former Commanders employees involved in the investigations, said in a joint statement to The Hill on Wednesday. “We fully expect the Committee will issue a subpoena to compel Mr. Snyder to appear. It is time that Mr. Snyder learns that he is not above the law.”
The Hill has reached out to the NFL for comment and more information.