October 4, 2022

Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder is testifying to Congress Thursday morning about sexual harassment and hostile workplace accusations against himself and his team, but the billionaire is giving his deposition in private via Zoom call as he travels in Israel. 

Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (Democrat-New York) sought to have Snyder testify publicly in person and under subpoena as part of House Oversight Committee’s probe into NFL club’s workplace culture. However, because he was traveling the Mediterranean aboard his luxury yacht, and because his attorney has refused to accept a subpoena on his behalf, the Committee was unable to serve him.  

His attorney, Karen Patton Seymour, previously told the Committee that he would testify voluntarily over Zoom call because he was out of the country for much of July and August, commemorating the one-year anniversary of his mother’s death by traveling to Israel. 

A Snyder spokesperson confirmed to DailyMail.com Thursday that he is testifying from Israel. 

The fact that he’s testifying voluntarily rather than under subpoena is significant, because it allows the 57-year-old billionaire to cite any existing non-disclosure agreements to refuse certain questions. 

Under subpoena, he would be compelled to testify fully.

For his part, Snyder has said he would give complete testimony, according to a Committee statement. Meanwhile, the House Democrats say they’re prepared to compel his testimony by subpoena if any important questions remain unanswered. 

Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder is testifying to Congress Thursday morning about sexual harassment and hostile workplace accusations against himself and his team, but the billionaire is doing so voluntarily via Zoom call as he remains outside the country

A name card for Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder sits at a table where the Committee on Oversight and Reform held a hearing about the toxic workplace culture at the Washington Commanders on June 22

Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (Democrat-New York) sought to have Snyder testify in person and under subpoena as part of House Oversight Committee’s probe into NFL club’s workplace culture. However, because he’s been traveling abroad and his attorney has refused to accept a subpoena on his behalf, the Committee was unable to serve him

‘The Committee’s deposition of Mr. Snyder will go forward today,’ read the statement provided to DailyMail.com. ‘Mr. Snyder has committed to providing full and complete testimony, and to answer the Committee’s questions about his knowledge of and contributions to the Commanders’ toxic work environment, as well as his efforts to interfere with the NFL’s internal investigation, without hiding behind non-disclosure or other confidentiality agreements.’

‘Should Mr. Snyder fail to honor his commitments, the Committee is prepared to compel his testimony on any unanswered questions upon his return to the United States.’

While he is in Israel, Snyder’s yacht is currently off the coast of Elba, where Napoleon was briefly exiled before returning to power in 1815.  

Snyder was invited to testify at a June 22 hearing, but declined, citing an overseas obligation, as well as reservations about the scope of the Committee’s questioning. In her letter last month, Maloney cited Snyder’s ‘month-long refusal’ to cooperate with the Committee, although Snyder’s attorney, Patton Seymour, disagreed with that characterization.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell did testify about the league investigation at the June 22 hearing, while Snyder remained conspicuously absent. At the time, Maloney announced her intentions to subpoena Snyder, whom she revealed was vacationing on his yacht off the coast of France.

However, Snyder has never been served as he remained abroad and Patton Seymour declined to accept to accept the subpoena on his behalf. 

Snyder’s overseas adventures have given birth to a new Twitter account, @DanSnydersYacht, dedicated to tracking his vessel, the Lady S. The whereabouts of his ship can also be tracked via Vesselfinder.com. 

The Lady S is currently parked off the island of Elba, where Napoleon was briefly exiled in 1815

Snyder’s overseas adventures have given birth to a new Twitter account, @DanSnydersYacht , dedicated to tracking his yacht, the Lady S

For months, the Committee has been investigating the Commanders’ workplace culture, which has been described as toxic.

Various reports have detailed claims of sexual harassment made by female ex-employees against male co-workers and supervisors, many of whom have since been dismissed.

Sexual harassment allegations against team employees ranged from inappropriate comments to the creation of a lewd behind-the-scenes video from a cheerleader calendar shoot in 2008, according to a 2020 Washington Post report that first publicized the claims.

Furthermore, a former cheerleader also alleged that Snyder suggested that she join his ‘close friend’ in a hotel room in 2004 so they ‘could get to know each other.’

Those revelations prompted a team investigation handled independently by DC-area attorney Beth Wilkinson, but the league quickly assumed control of that probe with Wilkinson’s team reporting to the commissioner’s office.

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The NFL then issued a $10 million fine to punish the club (which is worth an estimated $4.2 billion) and Snyder volunteered to cede day-to-day control of the team to his wife, Tanya.

But the league’s refusal to release a report on its investigation, citing privacy concerns of witnesses, prompted the Oversight Committee to launch its own investigation into the team, Snyder, and even the NFL.

National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodall virtually testifies to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee during a hearing about sexual harassment in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill on June 22

That investigation has led to more allegations of sexual harassment. Specifically, former team employee Tiffani Johnston testified in February that Snyder grabbed her thigh at a team dinner and pressured her to get into a limousine – claims that Snyder has since denied.

Johnston’s testimony triggered a new league investigation that’s currently being led by Mary Jo White, a former US attorney and chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

White is also looking into claims of financial improprieties alleged by a former vice president of sales for the team – an accusation that is also being investigated the Virginia attorney general’s office. The NFL has said White’s findings will be made public, and Goodell reiterated that point at the June 22 hearing.

The team has denied the accusations of financial malpractice.

Prior to the Committee’s hearing, members revealed new evidence that they claim ‘sheds light’ on Snyder’s role in ‘creating a hostile work environment.’

Ex-Commanders employee Tiffani Johnston told Congress’ Oversight Committee that Snyder once groped her thigh during a team dinner and pushed her toward his limousine with his hand on her lower back. Snyder has denied the allegation 

In a press release, the Committee accused Snyder of attempting to discredit victims with his own ‘shadow investigation’ aimed at influencing the NFL’s internal probe of the team and discouraging witnesses from coming forward.

Despite that, Goodell repeated on June 22 that ‘Dan Snyder has been held accountable,’ and deflected questions about the absence of any report by saying the NFL was protecting confidentiality agreements with witnesses.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform also released a 29-page memo last month detailing findings from its eight-month probe into the Commanders and the NFL’s handling of sexual harassment accusations.

Snyder’s lawyers allegedly created a 100-slide dossier that included private emails, texts, and social media posts from journalists, victims and witnesses, who had accused the club of harassment, according to the Committee. Furthermore, private investigators working for Snyder allegedly approached former cheerleaders in an effort to buy their silence and convince them to shift blame to other former employees.

In a public statement, a spokesman for Snyder said the hearing is ‘a politically charged show trial’ adding that Congress shouldn’t investigate ‘an issue a football team addressed years ago.’

For his part, Goodell told the Committee that the alleged ‘shadow investigation’ described in the memo violates NFL policy.

‘Any kind of harassment against people who want to come forward and tell the truth—we would not permit, and we would not find acceptable,’ Goodell told Rep. Jamie Raskin (Democrat-Maryland).

Redskins cheerleaders seen dancing as part of a 2004 event, where Tiffany Bacon Scourby claims Snyder suggested she spend some time with a close friend of his in a nearby hotel room

Also on June 22, the Committee revealed testimony from David Pauken, the team’s former Chief Operating Officer, who testified that Snyder told a female public relations staffer in 2002 to ‘stay away’ from a particular coach, whom she had accused of groping her.

Snyder was also accused by Pauken of retaliating against female employees and cheerleaders who engaged in consensual sexual relationships with make co-workers, while the men were able to keep their jobs. One unnamed cheerleader was fired for such a relationship, while her male counterpart retained his job with the team, according to Pauken.

‘The female employees were fired, the male employee was—there were no repercussions other than he was restricted from additional sex with the cheerleaders,’ Pauken said.

Another former employee told the Committee that the team culture centered around ‘glorified drinking and womanizing.’

The Committee had previously revealed a common interest agreement between the NFL and Commanders, that purportedly allowed Snyder to back-channel with the league and confidentially share information that couldn’t not be revealed publicly.

Goodell defended the agreement in his testimony, saying it was created to allow the Wilkinson investigation to be handed from the team’s purview to the league’s without requiring her to go back and interview witnesses who had already testified.

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The Committee also claims that Snyder’s lawyers were improperly given direct access to the NFL and the law firm conducting the investigation, Wilkinson Stekloff, and used that access to share information from the team’s probe in an attempt to influence investigating attorney Beth Wilkinson and her staff.

Snyder’s lawyers allegedly created a 100-slide dossier that included private emails, texts, and social media posts from journalists, victims and witnesses, who had accused the club of harassment. Furthermore, private investigators working for Snyder allegedly approached former cheerleaders in an effort to buy their silence and convince them to shift blame to former team president Bruce Allen, with whom Snyder has a contentious relationship. This slide (pictured) focuses on Washington Post reporter, Liz Clarke 

In prepared statements, Goodell did acknowledge that the team’s workplace culture had been ‘unacceptable.’

‘It is clear to me that the workplace in Washington was unprofessional and unacceptable in numerous respects: bullying, widespread disrespect toward colleagues, use of demeaning language, public embarrassment, and harassment,’ read Goodell’s prepared statement, provided to DailyMail.com by the NFL.

‘To be clear – the workplace at the Commanders today bears no resemblance to the workplace that has been described to this committee.’

Goodell also vowed to publish the findings of its new league investigation into Snyder, which includes February testimony from Johnston.

‘Because those new allegations were brought to the Committee in a public setting, we will share the results of that investigation when it is completed and will take additional disciplinary action if warranted,’ Goodell said.

In addition to Johnston’s testimony, another former employee named Melanie Coburn testified in February that she was once at Snyder’s home in Aspen where he provided prostitutes for male employees.

Snyder’s accuser, now an ex-team employee, had agreed not to sue the club or disclose her allegations as part of the settlement, according to the The Washington Post . The existence of the $1.6 million payout had been previously reported by the Post and was referenced in related court filings involving Snyder that have been reviewed by DailyMail.com (pictured)

Other former Commanders employees told HBO ahead of the February hearing that Snyder witnessed male employees sexually harassing – and even groping – female subordinates.

The former employees, including five women and one man, told the Committee in February that they feared retaliation from Snyder.

For Snyder, the June 22 hearing came at an inopportune time.

Beforehand, the Washington Post reported details of a $1.6 million settlement allegedly paid to an ex-team employee in 2009 after the woman accused Snyder of groping her aboard a team plane and trying to remove her clothing.

The existence of the settlement was referenced in previous court filings involving Snyder, but the specific allegations had not been revealed publicly until Tuesday, when the Post detailed a letter written by an attorney who conducted the team’s investigation into the matter.

Goodell did admit in his testimony that he was aware of the 2009 claims against Snyder, as well as the fact that the allegations went unreported at the time – a violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

WASHINGTON COMMANDERS SEXUAL HARASSMENT FALLOUT:

Team owner Dan Snyder: There are several outstanding allegations against Snyder. 

A former cheerleader named Tiffany Bacon Scourby told the Washington Post that Snyder suggested that she join his ‘close friend’ in a hotel room in 2004 so they ‘could get to know each other.’ 

In February of 2022, a female former employee told HBO that she saw Snyder laughing and puffing on a cigar while watching a male executive grope her female co-worker’s backside in Snyder’s private suite at FedEx Field. 

Another former employee, Tiffani Mattingly Johnston, said Snyder put his hand on her knee once at a dinner and later pressured her to get into his limousine, which she refused. 

Snyder privately settled one sexual harassment allegation in 2009 for $1.6 million following an incident aboard his private plane, according to the Washington Post. The woman, a former club employee, claims Snyder asked her for sex, groped her and attempted to remove her clothes while the pair were on a team plane returning from Las Vegas. 

His accuser had agreed not to sue the team or disclose her allegations as part of the settlement, but The Washington Post made them public in June 2022. The newspaper obtained a letter by a team attorney that detailed her allegations while arguing the claims were not credible.

Furthermore, the billionaire is accused of belittling executives, according to three members of the executive staff. Specifically, it’s claimed that he ridiculed an employee named Dennis Greene for being a college cheerleader, once allegedly ordering him to do cartwheels for his amusement. Snyder temporarily handed over day-to-day control of the club to his wife, Tanya, as the club was fined $10 million by the NFL. He now faces a criminal investigation in Virginia, where the club is accused of financial malpractice for allegedly swindling season ticket holders out of security deposits and improperly withholding ticket revenue from NFL teams. The Commanders have denied these claims.  

Chief operating officer Mitch Gershman: Former team employee Emily Applegate said he would routinely compliment her body while also regularly berating her for insignificant problems, like printer malfunctions. Her allegations were supported by two other female former employees. When contacted, Gershman told The Post, ‘I barely even remember who she is,’ adding that he ‘would apologize to anyone who thought I was verbally abusive.’ Gershman left the team in 2015.  

Team president Bruce Allen: Although Allen was not accused of sexual harassment or verbal abuse, Applegate claims he must have known about her problems because ‘he sat 30 feet away from me… and saw me sobbing at my desk several times a week.’ The brother of former Virginia Governor and US Senator George Allen, Bruce found himself at the center of Jon Gruden’s email controversy in October of 2021 when the now-former Raiders coach’s racist, homophobic messages were mysteriously leaked to the media. Ultimately the emails led to Gruden’s dismissal as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. Bruce Allen was fired after the 2019 season, when Washington went 3-13.

Former Washington Redskins director of pro personnel Alex Santos

Director of pro personnel Alex Santos: Six former employees and two reporters who covered the team told the Washington Post that Santos made inappropriate remarks to them about their appearances. He also asked them if they were interested in him romantically. In 2019, he allegedly pinched Rhiannon Walker, a reporter for The Athletic, and told her she had ‘an ass like a wagon.’ This resulted in an internal investigation. Another reporter, the Ringer’s Nora Princiotti, also accused Santos of harassing her. Santos, who declined to speak with The Post, was fired in July of 2020.

Team radio play-by-play announcer Larry Michael: Seven former employees told The Post that ‘the voice of the Washington Redskins’ frequently talked openly about female co-workers looks, often making sexually disparaging remarks. He was once caught on a ‘hot mic’ in 2018 discussing the looks of one intern, six sources told The Post. He is also accused of ordering employees to edit together a video of lewd behind-the-scenes outtakes from a 2008 calendar shoot. Michael, who declined to speak with The Post, retired after 16 seasons in July of 2020.

Former radio announcer Larry Michael (left) and former assistant director of pro personnel Richard Mann II (right)

Assistant director of pro personnel Richard Mann II: In a text message obtained by The Post, Mann told a female colleague that he and other men in the office debated whether she had plastic surgery on her breasts. He also warned another female coworker to expect an ‘inappropriate hug’ from him, adding, ‘don’t worry that will be a stapler in my pocket, nothing else.’ Mann declined to speak with The Post after being fired in July of 2020.

Former president of business operations Dennis Greene

President of business operations Dennis Greene: Five former employees told The Post that Greene asked female sales staffers to wear revealing outfits and flirt with wealthy season ticket holders and suite holders. Greene worked for the club for 17 years until 2018, when it was revealed that he had sold access to team cheerleaders at a bikini photo shoot in Costa Rica as part of a ticket package. According to a New York Times investigation, the 2013 calendar shoot did not involve any sex, but team officials did worry the cheerleaders by taking their passports. Some cheerleaders say they were required to be topless, although the shoot did not include any nudity. After a 14-hour shoot one day, nine of the 36 cheerleaders were reportedly asked to escort suite holders to a local nightclub. Several of the women began to cry, according to the Times. Greene declined to comment and has not worked for the team since he resigned in 2018.