Rep. James Comer vows to close commander’s probe if Republicans win midterms

A top member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee vowed Tuesday to shut down the Democratic-led panel’s investigations of the NFL and Washington commanders if Republicans gain control of the House in the upcoming midterm elections.

Rep. James Comer, R-Kentucky, told The Washington Times that investigating the “Washington Redskins” would not be a priority for the party, adding that the committee’s focus would shift to “overseeing” a Biden administration.

The announcement, while expected, comes amid clashes between Commander owner Dan Snyder and lawmakers over accepting subpoena services and whether the embattled billionaire will testify in testimony.

Mr Comer’s comments also underlined the timetable on which the oversight committee’s investigation may need to end, as elections are due in November.

“I don’t really care what Dan Snyder’s opinion is,” Mr Comer said. “I want the American people to know that this is a waste of their tax dollars and that this is not a Republican priority. … The Washington Redskins are not a Republican priority on the Oversight Committee.”

Mr. Comer acknowledged that if Democrats became a minority, parties on the committee could still use their human resources to conduct their own investigations of the NFL and commanders. But the investigation would lack the powers that Democrats currently hold, including the key ability to issue subpoenas and schedule hearings.

If Mr Comer becomes the committee chairman, he will have the power to set the committee’s agenda.

A spokesman for the House Oversight and Reform Committee said the panel had no comment on Mr Comer’s remarks. A spokesman for Snyder declined to comment.

Democrats and Republicans on the committee have been arguing for months over the panel’s powers. Republicans like Mr. Comer believe it is inappropriate to investigate a private company, while Democrats like Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi say the committee is scrutinizing the entire industry.

Last fall, the oversight committee began investigating the NFL and commanders after a public reexamination of the league’s decision not to release a written report of Washington workplace misconduct. At least 40 women said they witnessed or experienced sexual harassment while working for commanders, leading the NFL to fine the team $10 million.

“It’s a ridiculous argument,” Krishnamurthy told reporters last week of the Republicans’ criticism. “We obviously have oversight of every work environment in America. The legislation here is designed to prevent similar toxic environments from happening elsewhere. … We have to walk and chew gum.”

Mr Comer argued that the committee’s job was to “identify waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government,” adding that if Republicans took control of the House, that’s what they would focus on.

Asked about former Washington employees who wanted to see substantial results from the committee’s investigation, Mr. Comer reiterated that Congress “is not the right place” for any victim facing harassment or discrimination. “The judiciary is where these people need to go,” he said.

Meanwhile, the oversight committee’s investigation of the commander will continue.

So far, the committee’s investigation has surfaced previously unknown allegations of sexual and financial misconduct involving Mr. Snyder and the commander. Owners and teams have vehemently denied the allegations, though they sparked new investigations by the NFL and the district and Virginia attorneys general. New legislation was also introduced as a result of the commission’s investigation into the commander’s workplace.

The committee chair, Rep. Caroline B. Maloney, D-N.Y., announced at a hearing last week that she intends to issue a subpoena for Mr. Snyder to testify in this week’s testimony.

Since then, the two sides have been unable to reach a settlement. Mr. Snyder’s lawyers told the committee that because she and everyone were abroad, there would be “no” access to testimony for everyone. The lawyer said she was not entitled to be served of the subpoena, drawing a strong response from the committee on Monday.

But with mid-term exams in just a few months, time is running out.

“Democrats know that the midterm election results are not in their favor,” Mr Comer said. “Whether it’s the Washington football team’s investigation, or any investigation they have of any oil company chief executive, they should be focused on completing the investigation by Dec. 31.”

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