WASHINGTON — In a new letter addressed to the Federal Trade Commission, members of a Congressional committee are alleging "concerning business practices" by the Washington Commanders and owner Dan Snyder after reviewing thousands of pages of documents testifying to workplace misconduct. Now, the committee handling the investigation believes senior executives may have defrauded fans as well as the NFL.
The House Committee on Oversight and Reform has been investigating the Washington Commanders for months, related to the team's alleged toxic workplace culture, including allegations of sexual harassment by former employees. A 20-page letter sent to the FTC Tuesday by the leaders of the Committee on Oversight and Reform claims that the Commanders withheld up to $5 million in refundable deposits from more than 2,000 season ticket holders and hid money that should've been shared with the league.
"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 (NFL)," the letter begins.
The letter goes on to allege that the Commanders underreported ticket revenue and kept two sets of financial books in order to hide funds owed to the NFL. The allegations are largely based on information coming from former Commanders sales executive Jason Friedman, who worked with the team for 24 years.
"The team through our roller coaster were—we were on top of NFL attendance and revenues from 1997 to 2005 or 2006, and then things started to slowly go downhill," Friedman is quoted in the letter. "And some of these practices really started when things started to get a little tougher for the team financially."
Friedman claims the "deceptive practices" began in 2009.
The Commanders responded with a statement denying any wrongdoing and emphasizing that they continue to cooperate with the House Oversight Committee on their investigation.
“The team categorically denies any suggestion of financial impropriety of any kind at any time," a spokesperson wrote in a statement. "We adhere to strict internal processes that are consistent with industry and accounting standards, are audited annually by a globally respected independent auditing firm, and are also subject to regular audits by the NFL. We continue to cooperate fully with the Committee’s work.”
READ: The full letter from Congress to the FTC is below.
In 2020, the NFL launched a 10-month long investigation into the toxic culture of the Washington Commanders. The league ended up fining the team $10 million. The NFL launched a second investigation after new allegations were made by former Washington Commanders employee Tiffani Johnston during a roundtable discussion with Congress on Capitol Hill in early February. During that roundtable discussion, six former employees leveled accusations of misconduct.
The NFL has previously blamed the Commanders for impeding access to many of the documents requested during its own investigation into the team. However, a lawyer for Snyder told WUSA9'S Darren Haynes the team has never prevented the NFL from obtaining quote “non-privileged documents.”
“This new information suggests that in addition to fostering a hostile workplace culture, Mr. Snyder also may have cheated the team’s fans and the NFL," Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) said. "While the focus of our investigation remains the Commanders’ toxic work environment, I hope the FTC will review this troubling financial conduct and determine whether further action is necessary. We must have accountability.”
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) added that the Committee needs to continue to hold the Commanders, and its leaders, as well as the NFL accountable for protecting employees.
“The fact that the Committee, while investigating evidence of sexual harassment and workplace misconduct, also uncovered evidence of what appears to be a scheme to cheat fans and the NFL tells you all you need to know about Dan Snyder and how he is running this organization,” Krishnamoorthi said. “The question is what other potential wrongdoings are the Commanders engaging in, and what is the extent of the dysfunction atop their leadership?"
Brian Burroughs has had season tickets since 2011 and says he's ready to see change.
“There's been other things that have happened in the past, you know, different topics," Burroughs said. "You may have thought, 'wow, okay, this is really the time where he's going to be forced out. And he wasn't. I don't know if he's been protected by the other owners ... As a fan of the team, I would really like to see a different direction.”