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Update: Dan Snyder turns down House Oversight Committee’s request to appear again

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Commissioner Roger Goodell Press Conference Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Update: Dan Snyder, through his attorney, did not accept the House Oversight Committee’s second request to appear (virtually) before the Committee on Wednesday. Snyder is overseas for “Commanders-related business”, and can’t reschedule. His attorney also continues to have issues with the format of the hearing, and Snyder's access to witness identities, allegations, and other information he doesn’t want to be blindsided with. Despite claims of transparency during the NFL’s investigation, Snyder was never expected to actually appear before, or cooperate fully with, the Committee, or to be fully willing to cooperate with Congress’s investigation.

The Committee had a harsh response to Snyder turning down their request again, and will likely need to subpeona him to ever get him to appear.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform is giving Dan Snyder another chance to voluntarily testify on Wednesday, June 22nd. They are holding a hearing as part of their investigation in the Washington Commanders decades of sexual harassment in a toxic workplace, and also the NFL's handling of it's investigation into the team. That led to a $10 million fine, Snyder "stepping away" from day-to-day operations, and changes to the organization personnel.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has agreed to appear virtually in front of the Committee, but Dan Snyder has declined, saying he will be out of the country on business. The Committee sent Snyder's lawyers a letter last night to give him the opportunity to also appear virtually on Wednesday.

The Committee will provide Dan Snyder with all of the documents they plan to question him about. This was one of the reasons Snyder didn't want to appear, but that obstacle has been removed. Snyder has until Monday, June 20th at 9am to respond to this new request. The Committee has the power to subpoena Snyder if he continues to make excuses for not being able to testify about the accusations against him and his organization.

June 17, 2022

Ms. Karen Patton Seymour

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP

125 Broad Street

New York, NY 10004

Dear Ms. Seymour:

This letter responds to your June 15, 2022, letter stating that your client, Daniel Snyder, the longtime owner of the Washington Commanders (Commanders) football team, is declining the Committee’s invitation to testify at a hearing on June 22, 2022, based on several purported concerns that you have raised. The Committee intends to move forward with this hearing and uncover the truth about the toxic workplace culture at the Commanders under Mr. Snyder’s leadership. I write today to address certain mischaracterizations and demands in your letter and to offer additional accommodations to address concerns that you raised. In light of these accommodations and the importance of Mr. Snyder’s testimony, I urge Mr. Snyder to reconsider his decision to decline public testimony and by doing so refusing to accept accountability for his actions and the culture he has fostered within his team.

For the past eight months, the Committee has investigated the toxic work environment at the Commanders and the National Football League’s (NFL) response. As the investigation has progressed, it has become clear that, given his longstanding ownership of the team and high degree of involvement in its daily operations, Mr. Snyder is uniquely positioned to offer key information regarding this matter. According to his attorneys, he sat for seven hours of interviews in the internal investigation of the Commanders’ toxic workplace—the results of which the NFL and the Commanders have refused to share with the Committee. Mr. Snyder’s refusal to testify at the June 22 hearing would be inconsistent with his repeated commitments to cooperate with the Committee and cast doubt on your assertion that the Commanders are now “a model of how to make extraordinary improvements in workplace culture.”

The Committee’s Invitation and Accommodations to Mr. Snyder

On June 1, 2022, the Committee invited Mr. Snyder, along with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, to testify at a hearing on June 22. The Committee provided three weeks’ advance notice of the hearing, which is ample time for him to prepare and reschedule any personal conflicts. This advance notice exceeds the Committee’s customary practice.

Mr. Snyder was aware of the Committee’s interest in these topics well before he was invited to testify. The Committee launched this investigation nearly eight months ago, issued several public statements regarding the investigation, and held a public roundtable with victims of workplace misconduct at the Commanders in February 2022.

In addition, the Committee has offered to accommodate Mr. Snyder’s plans to attend an awards ceremony in France by permitting him to appear remotely. Mr. Snyder has not identified any scheduling challenges that would prevent him from testifying before the Committee while out of the country. Nor has Mr. Snyder asserted that he is unable to return to the United States prior to the hearing, should he prefer to testify in person.

Mr. Snyder is no different than any other witness whose testimony the Committee seeks as part of an important investigation. Any suggestion that the Committee has treated Mr. Snyder unfairly is unfounded, especially given that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has agreed to testify voluntarily at the same hearing.

Mr. Snyder’s Refusal to Testify

Your June 6 and June 15 letters to the Committee contain a number of inaccurate assertions and demands but do not include any valid reason for Mr. Snyder’s refusal to appear at the June 22 hearing.

First, your letter incorrectly stated that “any alleged workplace misconduct under investigation by the Committee occurred more than a decade in the past." To the contrary, the Committee is investigating a troubling pattern of serious misconduct at the Commanders spanning two decades, including as recently as 2019. For example, one victim of sexual harassment under Mr. Snyder’s leadership at the Commanders informed the Committee:

I was employed at the Washington Football Team from March 2015 to January of 2019. … During my time with the Team, I was sexually harassed by multiple male employees, including top executives. … Everyone knew about their mistreatment and even saw it happening, but no one did anything about it.

Second, as reasons for Mr. Snyder’s refusal to appear before the Committee, your letter cited two investigations by state attorneys general as well as an internal investigation conducted by the NFL. As previously explained by Committee staff, the existence of parallel investigation by other entities does not bar Congress from conducting investigations or receiving testimony from witnesses. Congress has long investigated matters subject to parallel proceedings, including matters subject to investigations by state attorneys general. Even with respect to criminal investigations, the Supreme Court has held:

[S]urely a congressional committee which is engaged in a legitimate legislative investigation need not grind to a halt whenever responses to its inquiries might be potentially harmful to a witness in some distinct proceeding, or when crime or wrongdoing is disclosed.

In this case, the existence of other investigations does not preclude Mr. Snyder from appearing before the Committee for a public hearing.

Third, your letter erroneously claimed that the Committee “declined to provide any additional information about the nature and scope of its investigation.” The Committee has been clear about the purposes and aims of its investigation. For example:

• In October 2021, the Committee sent a public letter to the NFL explaining that it was investigating the team’s “hostile workplace culture and the [NFL’s] investigation into this matter.”

• At the February 2022 roundtable with victims of workplace misconduct at the Commanders, I explained that the Committee is examining “the need to finally end sexual harassment and misconduct in the workplace.” I further noted the Committee is “exploring legislative solutions to rein in the use of non-disclosure agreements that prevent workers from speaking out about sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace” and is examining “ways to promote accountability and strengthen protections for all workers.”

• The June 1, 2022, invitation letter to Mr. Snyder stated that the June 22 hearing will “address the Washington Commanders’ toxic workplace culture and the NFL’s handling of that matter.”

The invitation to Mr. Snyder also provided further details on the purpose of the Committee’s investigation and the June 22 hearing. The letter explained that the ongoing investigation will inform legislative efforts to strengthen protections for employees across all workplaces, including efforts to prevent and address toxic work environments and workplace investigation processes; strengthen protections for workers experiencing misconduct in the workplace; and address the use of non-disclosure agreements to prevent the disclosure of unlawful employment practices, including sexual harassment.

The Committee’s investigation falls well within Congress’s broad authority to investigate and follows prior investigations by the Committee conducted under Chairs of both parties examining conduct in professional sports.

Your June 15 letter appears to be demanding that the Committee go beyond explaining the investigation’s scope and purpose with highly unusual and inappropriate requests to access internal Committee investigative materials, including “the identity of any other witnesses that have testified about the team and/or my client, whether any such witnesses have made allegations about the team and/or my client, and the substance of any such allegations.” While the Committee has conducted this investigation with great transparency—in contrast to how the team and the NFL have addressed these issues—these demands seek to intrude on congressional prerogatives and are not consistent with the Committee’s past practices.

The Committee’s Additional Accommodations

You have asked that, as a “courtesy,” the Committee “provide copies of documents that members of the Committee intend to question Mr. Snyder about.” Although the Committee has no obligation to provide witnesses copies of documents prior to hearings, the Committee is willing to make an additional accommodation in this unique instance to secure Mr. Snyder’s voluntary participation. If Mr. Snyder commits, in writing, to appear at the hearing on June 22, the Committee is willing to provide Mr. Snyder and his counsel, prior to the hearing, with copies of any of the team’s documents produced by the NFL that the Committee expects to use during the hearing.

Please inform the Committee by Monday, June 20, 2022, at 9:00 a.m. ET whether Mr. Snyder accepts these additional accommodations and will appear before the Committee on June 22, 2022.

The Committee on Oversight and Reform is the principal oversight committee of the House of Representatives and has broad authority to investigate “any matter” at “any time” under House Rule X. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Carolyn B. Maloney Chairwoman

cc: The Honorable James Comer, Ranking Member

Dan Snyder's superyacht is more than capable of accomodations a virtual call to Congress.

Snyder's spokesperson responded to the Committee's request, and are said his lawyers are preparing a response.

Watch the hearings here: