WASHINGTON — Congress released its much-anticipated report on the Washington Commanders and the organization's alleged toxic workplace culture Thursday. The release of the House Oversight Committee report, titled "How the NFL and the Washington Commanders covered up decades of sexual misconduct," comes as Republicans are expected to take over the House in 2023 and close the investigation.
The year-long investigation included 11 hours of closed-door testimony by team owner Dan Snyder, a bombshell memo in which it was revealed that Snyder conducted his own so-called shadow investigation, and was one of several investigations with Snyder at the center.
The 79-page report concluded that Snyder interfered with the NFL's investigation into his organization, that the NFL was aware of the interference and did nothing to stop it nor did the league penalize Snyder for impeding their investigation.
"The Committee’s investigation shows that the NFL has not protected workers from sexual harassment and abuse, has failed to ensure victims can speak out without fear of retaliation, and has not sought true accountability for those responsible, even after decades of misconduct," the report states. "Congress should act swiftly to address these deficiencies and protect workers across the United States."
Attorneys for the Commanders responded to the release claiming Congress was using its investigation to "chase headlines" and create a "one-side" narrative.
"These Congressional investigators demonstrated, almost immediately, that they were not interested in the truth, and were only interested in chasing headlines by pursuing one side of the story," John Brownlee and Stuart Nash, counsel for the Commanders, wrote in a joint statement. "... Today's report does not advance public knowledge of the Washington Commanders workplace in any way. The team is proud of the progress it has made in recent years in establishing a welcoming and inclusive workplace, and it looks forward to future success, both on and off the field."
READ: The full Committee on Oversight and Reform report
Before the House had released the official report, the Republican members of the committee released their own 210-page memo refuting the existence of a shadow investigation and slamming the Democratic members of the committee for not conducting a thorough investigation of former team president and General Manager Bruce Allen.
The response appears to be making the case that Allen, not Snyder, is responsible for the toxicity. The GOP report includes emails between Allen and former head coach Jon Gruden sharing nude photos of cheerleaders. WUSA9 has seen the photos, and has chosen not to publish them out of respect for the individuals pictured.
"This investigation has not in any way sought to “fully” understand the Team’s workplace conduct," the GOP Minority Staff Memo reads. "Rather, this investigation has relied on uncorroborated allegations while ignoring, and even actively trying to avoid learning the inconvenient truths."
The memo goes on to call the House investigation "an ends-oriented effort to take down an NFL team owner."
"As I’ve said from the start, the Oversight Committee is not the appropriate venue for this review and this effort is a misuse of resources," Ranking Member James Comer (R-KY), who becomes Committee Chairman in January, said in response to the House's official report. "The primary mission of the House Oversight and Reform Committee is to root out waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in the federal government. In the 118th Congress, Oversight Republicans will end this charade, return the Committee to its primary responsibilities, and conduct meaningful oversight over the Biden administration’s self-inflicted crises that are harming the American people.”
The NFL is still conducting its own investigation into the organization, being led by a former federal prosecutor, Mary Jo White. Snyder has yet to speak to White.
In addition, the team is also under investigation by the attorneys general in D.C. and Virginia following allegations of financial impropriety. Just last month, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine sued Snyder, the Commanders and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for deceiving fans during internal investigations.
In the middle of all of this, it was announced that Snyder had hired Bank of America Securities to explore options for selling the team.
In the GOP response, they allege that the committee's investigation was an elaborate scheme to force Snyder to sell the Commanders to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
"Within hours of the news breaking of a possible future sale, Jeff Bezos was reported to be interested in purchasing the team," the GOP report reads. "Bezos is also the owner of The Washington Post, whose negative coverage of Dan Snyder has been a key driver of Committee Democrats’ investigation. Given the targeted, predetermined nature of Committee Democrats’ investigation of the Team and its owner, it appears that the entire effort may have had as its goal the removal of an unfavored owner and the installation of the owner of a left-leaning newspaper sympathetic to the Democratic party."
Editor's Note: WUSA9 obtained a copy of the original memo sent to Republican Oversight Committee Members by GOP staff in response to the House's Commanders investigation. The memo included numerous redacted emails and partially redacted nude photos of cheerleaders. Out of respect for those photographed, WUSA9 has chosen to fully redact all explicit photos. The report also includes language that may be considered offensive.
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