WASHINGTON – The ranking Democrat on the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform is asking the Republican chair in charge to refer former Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder to the Department of Justice for lying under oath.
Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin wrote a letter Wednesday to Kentucky Rep. James Comer urging him to send the case to the DOJ to determine if Snyder should be prosecuted for making false statements in his deposition and obstructing a congressional investigation.
Raskin pointed to the results of the NFL’s independent review by former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White that contradicted Snyder’s testimony, specifically about sexually harassing a former employee and deliberately underreporting revenue to avoid sharing it with other owners. The league fined Snyder $60 million for sexual harassment and financial improprieties last month as part of the completion of his sale of the team to a group led by Josh Harris for a North American professional sports record $6.05 billion.
“Making false statements to Congress and obstructing congressional investigations are serious crimes,” Raskin wrote in the letter. “This Committee cannot conduct effective oversight if witnesses misrepresent and obscure the truth.”
There's no indication Comer will take any action as a result of the letter. A spokesperson ripped the sentiment, saying Democrats were overly concerned with using committee resources to target a private workplace.
“Ranking Member Raskin is obsessed with an investigation that has no connection whatsoever to the federal government," the spokesperson said in an email to The Associated Press. "The Oversight Committee is going to continue to prioritize the American people by ensuring our federal government is efficient, accountable and transparent.”
A representative for Raskin said his office had nothing to add beyond the letter.
Former employee Tiffani Johnston told the committee Snyder at one point placed his hand on one of her thighs under a table during a team work dinner and later that evening aggressively pushed her toward his limo with his hand on her lower back, encouraging her to ride with him to her car.
According to excerpts of Snyder's deposition, which was not made in a public hearing, he said it “didn't happen” and was “just not true." White's investigation sustained Johnston's allegations, calling them credible and corroborated by other witnesses and evidence.
Jason Friedman, another former employee who worked for the team for 24 years, detailed ways the team with Snyder in charge would report revenue to the league. The investigation substantiated those claims, concluding the team withheld $11 million in revenue — and that could be a low estimate given that White's team was unable to reach a conclusion about tens of millions of additional dollars that may have been withheld in part because Snyder and the team did not cooperate fully with the investigation.
Friedman's testimony prompted the committee, when it was controlled by Democrats last year, to recommend the Federal Trade Commission look into the team engaging in potentially unlawful financial conduct. Citing the Commanders response to the FTC denying allegations, Comer wrote in a letter last year to then-chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney in which he deemed Friedman's testimony “one-sided, unsupported claims from a disgruntled ex-employee and called him “not a reliable witness.”
After Republicans won control of the house in November to put Comer in charge, he and his colleagues ended the investigation into Snyder. A final report released by Democrats in December said Snyder created a “toxic work culture” for more than two decades, "ignoring and downplaying sexual misconduct” and what former female employees described as hundreds of instances of sexual harassment by men at the top levels of the organization.
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