Bloomberg Law
Nov. 10, 2022, 11:34 PM

Dan Snyder Sued by DC for Alleged Lies Over Harassment Probe (3)

Sabrina Willmer
Sabrina Willmer
Bloomberg News

Washington DC Attorney General Karl Racine filed a lawsuit claiming billionaire Dan Snyder and the National Football League misled the public about an investigation into a toxic work environment at his Washington Commanders football team.

The consumer protection suit accuses Snyder, the Commanders, the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell of colluding to downplay allegations of sexual harassment of employees so that fans would continue to support the team financially through ticket sales and merchandise purchases.

“All of that deception was done to protect their profits and their image,” Racine said Thursday at a press conference in Washington. He added that his office will seek potentially millions of dollars in damages for alleged lies dating back to July 2020.

“The toxic culture, created and condoned by Snyder, permeated every corner of the Team, leaving no safe avenue to get help,” the attorney general said in the lawsuit.

In a statement, the Commanders’ attorneys said, “Over two years ago, Dan and Tanya Snyder acknowledged that an unacceptable workplace culture had existed within their organization for several years and they have apologized many times for allowing that to happen. We agree with AG Racine on one thing: the public needs to know the truth. Although the lawsuit repeats a lot of innuendo, half-truths and lies, we welcome this opportunity to defend the organization -- for the first time -- in a court of law and to establish, once and for all, what is fact and what is fiction.”

‘Blind Eye’

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy rejected Racine’s claims against the league and Goodell as “legally unsound and factually baseless.”

According to the attorney general, the NFL misled the public into believing it would assume oversight of an independent investigation into workplace issues without Snyder’s influence, but instead agreed secretly to give him control over what information could be shared. The league turned “a blind eye” to attempts by Snyder to prevent victims and witnesses to talk to investigators, Racine said.

The attorney general said he’s seeking a court order forcing the NFL to release findings from a 10-month investigation of the Washington team’s workplace culture.

McCarthy said the NFL had already “made public a summary” of the findings of the investigation by attorney Beth Wilkinson and had “imposed a record-setting fine against the club and its ownership.”

Snyder, who bought the team in 1999, has been under increasing pressure recently to sell his NFL team amid probes of the sexual-harassment claims by female employees as well as alleged financial misconduct by the organization. The Commanders also haven’t performed well, with just six winning seasons in the past 23 and two playoff wins.

The team changed its name this season, after years of protests from Native Americans who said the previous one was a racial slur. Snyder had long refused to make the switch, but by 2020, retailers including Inc. and Walmart Inc. began refusing to sell the team’s merchandise.

Possible Sale

Earlier this month, the team said it had hired Bank of America Corp. to exploreoptions, including a sale. In October, Jim Irsay, owner of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, told reporters there should be “serious consideration” about removing Snyder and forcing a sale of the team.

Jeff Bezos, the founder of and owner of The Washington Post newspaper, has expressed interest in bidding for the Commanders if the team is for sale.

In addition to Racine’s probe, the team has been the focus of investigations by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

The committee, in June, said an investigationfound “widespread sexual harassment, bullying, and intimidation” at the team and a failure by the NFL to properly respond. In its memo, the committee claimed Snyder started his own “shadow investigation” to discredit his accusers.

The inquiry followed stories by the Washington Post detailing how for years former female employees faced sexual misconduct.

In April, the committee saidSnyder and other Commanders executives might have “cheated fans and the NFL,” and urged the Federal Trade Commission to investigate. Jason Friedman, a former team sales executive, told the committee he was instructed by senior executives to withhold refundable deposits fans paid for premium seating. He said the organization “improperly converted unclaimed deposits into revenue” for other uses, lawmakers said.

Friedman also said the team underreported ticket revenue that should have been shared with the NFL by falsely claiming it came from unrelated special events, including concerts or college football games, the committee said.

The team denied the allegation, saying it hired an outside lawfirm and forensic auditors to review its accounts.

“This investigation found no evidence that the team intentionally withheld security deposits that should have been returned to customers or that the team improperly converted any unclaimed deposits to revenue,” the Commanders said in an emailed statement. “The investigation found no evidence of any deliberate or fraudulent intent on the part of the team to misallocate revenue to avoid revenue sharing, and that the amounts involved represented a de minimis portion of the overall team revenue.”

(Updates with Commanders comment)

To contact the reporters on this story:
Sabrina Willmer in Washington at;
Kamaron Leach in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Katia Porzecanski at

Steve Stroth, Joe Schneider

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