WASHINGTON — The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform has shared a memo detailing findings from the committee's investigation into the Washington Commanders' hostile workplace culture allegations. The memo was released just hours before a hearing Wednesday in which National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to testify.
The memo describes new evidence uncovered by the committee that sheds light on team owner Dan Snyder's purported role in creating a hostile work environment at the Commanders organization and his apparent efforts to discredit victims and witnesses by launching a shadow investigation to influence the NFL's internal investigation into workplace misconduct allegations.
The House Oversight Committee launched its investigation in October 2021, following the NFL's refusal to release the findings of the internal investigation led by D.C. attorney Beth Wilkinson. Over the past eight months, the committee has reviewed thousands of documents, conducted interviews and depositions with former Commanders employees and held a roundtable discussion with accusers and witnesses.
According to the memo, Snyder's former Chief Operating Officer, David Pauken, testified during a deposition that when Snyder learned that a member of the team's coaching staff had groped a public relations employee, Snyder took no action against the coach and instead directed the victim to "stay away from the coach."
During that deposition, Pauken also explained that Snyder fired female employees who engaged in consensual relationships with male members of the team's football operations. Describing one situation, Pauken is quoted as saying, "The female employees were fired, the male employee was -- there were no repercussions other than he was restricted from additional sex with cheerleaders."
The committee's memo also details what it calls a "shadow investigation" launched by Snyder. The investigation was used to discredit his accusers in the eyes of the NFL, the committee says.
Snyder's lawyers used the shadow investigation to create a 100-slide dossier with private emails, text messages, telephone records and social media posts from journalists, victims and witnesses who had made credible public accusations of harassment against the Commanders.
The memo also states that during the Wilkinson investigation, Snyder and his lawyers sent private investigators to the homes of former cheerleaders, offering hush money to try to dissuade them from cooperating with investigators. They also gathered emails from former Team President Bruce Allen in an effort to "demonstrate that Bruce Allen had created the toxic environment at the Washington Commanders."
The committee also uncovered information that casts doubt on the NFL's claim that its internal investigation was independent.
The committee points to a common interest agreement that gave Snyder a back channel to make confidential presentations to the NFL and block the release of information.
The committee says in the memo that the NFL was aware of Snyder's efforts to influence the Wilkinson investigation and harass and intimidate witnesses, but failed to take meaningful actions to prevent them. Ultimately, the NFL was briefed on the findings of the Wilkinson investigation 16 times, including at least two personal briefings with Goodell, but chose not to disclose the findings to the public.
During the House Oversight committee hearing on Wednesday, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, announced her intent to issue a subpoena to Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Commanders, for a Committee deposition.
Maloney asked Commissioner Goodell whether he would hold Snyder accountable for refusing to testify in front of Congress.
Goodell said, "That is not my choice."
“Mr. Snyder’s refusal to testify sends a clear signal that he is more concerned about protecting himself than coming clean to the American public. If the NFL is unwilling to hold Mr. Snyder accountable, then I am prepared to do so,” Chairwoman Maloney said at Wednesday’s hearing. “The Committee will not be deterred in its investigation to uncover the truth of workplace misconduct at the Washington Commanders.”
Goodell made it clear that he felt the NFL had done its job by conducting the investigation and issuing fines and what he called "unprecedented discipline against the club."
Meanwhile, many Republican representatives called the hearing a waste of time and not something the committee should be investigating.