Lawmakers reserved a seat for Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder at a congressional hearing on Wednesday when they placed a “Mr. Snyder” nameplate and one on the witness stand Empty chair. But at the end of the two-and-a-half-hour event, they made it clear that his next appearance would not be an option.
Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said the panel will issue a subpoena to Mr. Snyder to testify in testimony next week.
She made the announcement on the day NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told the committee he did not have the authority to remove the embattled billionaire as owner, nor could it be because Mr. Snyder was not with the committee. punish him for cooperating. Mr Goodell testified remotely that Mr Snyder could face additional penalties from the league depending on the outcome of the ongoing investigation.
The subpoenas and Mr Goodell’s authority were some of the many topics covered at Wednesday’s hearing, which included stark partisan divides and claims by a Democratic-led panel that Mr Snyder conducted a “shadow probe” during the coalition’s investigation into the commander’s workplace. “The misconduct of his accusers in an attempt to discredit him.
Mr. Snyder declined the committee’s invitation to appear this week, objecting to the format and date of the hearing. Mr Snyder told the committee he had previous business-related commitments, while Ms Maloney said he was in France for the awards ceremony.
Ms Maloney said she intended to subpoena Mr Snyder after Mr Goodell said he had no “responsibility” for whether the owners appeared before Congress.
“Mr. Snyder’s refusal to testify sends a clear signal that he is more concerned with protecting himself than confessing with the American people,” Ms. Maloney said. “If the NFL is unwilling to hold Mr. Snyder accountable, then I am prepared to do so. … The committee will not be hindered by its investigation of the truth about the Washington commander’s workplace misconduct.”
To accompany the hearing, the oversight committee released a 29-page memo that found Snyder hired private investigators to go to the homes of the team’s former cheerleaders and offer them “hush money” to prevent them from participating in the league’s investigation. Mr. Snyder and his legal team also created a 100-page “dossier” listing former employees, their lawyers and journalists to discredit them.
The group, which began investigating the commander last fall, said Mr. Snyder sought to blame former team president Bruce Allen for the team’s workplace culture. More than 40 women said they experienced or witnessed sexual harassment while working for the commander, and Wednesday’s memo included testimony from former employees who said Mr. Snyder facilitated the environment.
The memo was frequently referred to in Mr Goodell’s testimony, and the commissioner had to answer questions about the findings. The longtime NFL executive said he ordered Snyder to stop the investigation once the league took over in late summer 2020.
The NFL stepped in after a former employee filed sexual harassment allegations. Snyder’s use of investigators continues through the spring of 2021, according to the oversight committee’s findings.
The NFL fined commanders $10 million in July 2021 for workplace misconduct, but the league’s handling of the investigation came under repeated scrutiny by Democrats at Wednesday’s hearing.
Much of the meeting focused on Mr Goodell’s decision not to release a written report on the findings of chief investigator Beth Wilkinson. Mr Goodell said the league had promised entrants confidentiality and said he would continue to abide by the agreement. The commission said the NFL’s original agreement contained a clause requiring Ms Wilkinson to include a written report before a series of oral investigations ordered by Mr Goodell.
But in a heated exchange, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi and Jamie Raskin, Democrats of Illinois and Maryland, respectively, pressed the commissioner why the league didn’t just drop names from the final version — which the NFL compiled in 2014. Report misconduct within the Miami Dolphins organization.
“Congressman, with all due respect, in my world editing doesn’t always work,” Mr Goodell told Mr Ruskin. “I promise you.”
Mr Goodell has largely defended the league’s approach, saying he believes Mr Snyder has been held accountable. He said the commander’s workplace is one of the worst he’s seen in his more than 25 years in the NFL, though he notes the steps the team is taking to transform the organization.
Mr Goodell said Mr Snyder had not attended a league meeting for more than a year and was not involved in the day-to-day running of the club “as far as I know” – a highly ranked source told Washington in March. The Times disputed. In announcing Ms. Wilkinson’s findings, Mr. Snyder will voluntarily withdraw from the team’s day-to-day operations for “several months,” league officials said.
However, the commissioner did not rule out additional penalties for Mr. Snyder and the team, according to the league’s latest findings on the team. After former employee Tiffany Johnston came forward in February accusing Mr. Snyder of making unwelcome advances more than 15 years ago, the league hired former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Jo White to investigate the allegations.
The league’s investigation has since expanded to include allegations of financial misconduct by the team, as well as allegations uncovered in an oversight committee investigation. Mr Goodell insisted that Ms White’s findings would come in the form of a written report because the allegations had been made public. Mr Snyder has denied the allegations.
In the heat of the hearing, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., urged Mr. Goodell to remove Mr. Snyder from the NFL.
“I have no right to remove him, Congresswoman,” Mr Goodell said.
Under the league’s charter, the league can remove an owner, but the measure, which has never been used, requires 24 of 32 NFL owners’ votes. The commissioner can also recommend removal of the owner.
When former Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson was accused of sexual misconduct in 2017, Mr. Richardson voluntarily sold the team.
Mr Goodell said he didn’t know until Ms Wilkinson’s investigation that the commander paid a woman a $1.6 million secret settlement in 2009 after she accused Mr Snyder of groping in the back of a private flight And tried to have sex with her in April. The NFL’s personal conduct policy at the time required teams to notify the league office of sexual harassment allegations, although Mr. Goodell did not admit teams violated the policy.
On the other side of the aisle, Republicans painted Wednesday’s hearing as a political farce — once again questioning why the committee is investigating a private company. After the opening statement, Rep. Byron Donalds, a Florida Republican, noticed Mr. Snyder’s empty chair and questioned the purpose of the hearing — leading Ms. Maloney to knock the gavel.
“You can hit the gavel as much as you want, but I don’t care,” Mr Donalds said.
Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan introduced the First Amendment and asked Mr. Goodell about the NFL banning Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy from playing. After Mr. Goodell said he didn’t know what Mr. Jordan was referring to, Mr. Jordan turned to the commander’s decision to fine defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio $100,000 for what he called Jan. 6, 2021, a riot in the U.S. The Capitol “dust settled”. Mr Goodell said it was coach Ron Rivera’s decision, adding he respected the commander’s coach.
Mr. Goodell’s most controversial exchange with a Republican congressman occurred when Rep. Glenn Grossman of Wisconsin criticized the coalition’s “awakened” embrace of social justice.
“Members of Congress, first of all, I do not apologise for speaking out against racism,” Mr Goodell said.
A spokesman for Snyder also slammed the committee, saying its investigation was “predestined from the start.”
“The committee’s decision to issue a ‘report’ and introduce legislation prior to the hearing proves that this is a political show trial, not a revelation,” the spokesman said ahead of the hearing. “Hopefully the committee will take advantage of Its resources address more pressing national issues than football teams tackled years ago.”
The team has yet to make a statement on news of Mr Snyder’s subpoena. Because the subpoena is for testimony, Mr. Snyder’s testimony — if he complies with orders — will take place behind closed doors.
Democrats again rejected Republican arguments about committee jurisdiction, pointing to the then-GOP-led group’s meddling in USA Gymnastics’ sexual abuse of hundreds of gymnasts by team doctor Larry Nassar and MLB’s use of steroids processing. Mr Krishnamoorthi said the committee could “walk and chew gum” at the same time.
“We live in an age where people feel they are above the law,” Mr Ruskin told reporters. “Unfortunately, this sense of impunity and arrogance right now is a social contagion. … Maybe Dan Snyder took a cue from those who thought of themselves above the people’s representatives in Congress.”