House oversight committee urges Daniel Snyder to testify June 22

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The chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform wrote Friday that she found no “valid reason” for Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder’s refusal to testify at next week’s Capitol Hill hearing on the team’s workplace issues and urged him to “reconsider his decision.”

In a six-page letter to Karen Patton Seymour, an attorney for Snyder, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) offered some “additional accommodations” to convince Snyder to agree to testify but characterized other requests for special treatment as “highly unusual and inappropriate.” She gave Snyder until Monday morning to reply.

The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to testify remotely.

Roger Goodell will testify, Daniel Snyder won’t at congressional hearing

In a four-page letter Wednesday from Seymour, Snyder declined the committee’s initial invitation to appear at the hearing. Seymour cited issues of “fundamental fairness and due process.” Seymour also wrote that Snyder has a “long-standing Commanders-related business conflict” and plans to be out of the country on the hearing date.

In her reply Friday, Maloney addressed point by point the reasons provided by Seymour on Snyder’s behalf. Maloney characterized some of those reasons as spurious and others as inaccurate while finding none of them valid.

“Your June 6 and June 15 letters to the Committee contain a number of inaccurate assertions and demands but do not include any valid reason for Mr. Snyder’s refusal to appear at the June 22 hearing,” she wrote.

“The Committee intends to move forward with this hearing and uncover the truth about the toxic workplace culture at the Commanders under Mr. Snyder’s leadership,” Maloney wrote. “I write today to address certain mischaracterizations and demands in your letter and to offer additional accommodations to address concerns that you raised. In light of these accommodations and the importance of Mr. Snyder’s testimony, I urge Mr. Snyder to reconsider his decision to decline public testimony and by doing so refusing to accept accountability for his actions and the culture he has fostered within his team.”

A spokesperson for the Snyders wrote in response to a request for comment: “Mr. Snyder’s lawyers are in receipt of the letter, are reviewing, and plan on responding directly to the Committee.”

Maloney noted that the committee extended invitations to Snyder and Goodell in June 1 letters and asserted that three weeks’ notice was “ample time” to reschedule personal conflicts and exceeds the committee’s customary practice.

As for the business conflict and plan to be out of the country that Seymour cited among the reasons Snyder could not attend, Maloney noted that the committee is allowing Snyder to appear remotely.

Given that Goodell has chosen that option, Maloney wrote, Snyder should be able to both participate in the hearing and “attend an awards ceremony in France.”

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Snyder’s refusal to testify, she wrote, would be “inconsistent” with his repeated promises to cooperate with the committee. Moreover, it would “cast doubt on your assertion that the Commanders are now ‘a model of how to make extraordinary improvements in workplace culture.’”

“Mr. Snyder is no different than any other witness whose testimony the Committee seeks as part of an important investigation,” Maloney wrote. “Any suggestion that the Committee has treated Mr. Snyder unfairly is unfounded, especially given that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has agreed to testify voluntarily at the same hearing.”

The committee has not issued a subpoena to compel Snyder to testify. David Rapallo, former staff director of the committee and a current associate professor at Georgetown Law School, said this week that the committee typically would make one more attempt to find an accommodation before issuing a subpoena.

Snyder, through his lawyer, sought several accommodations in weighing whether to participate in the hearing. As Maloney summarized, he appeared to demand the identity of other witnesses who had testified about him or the team, whether those witnesses made allegations about him or the team and the substance of those allegations. She characterized such demands as “highly unusual and inappropriate requests to access internal Committee investigative materials” and inconsistent with the committee’s past practices.

As a “courtesy” and “gesture of good faith,” however, Maloney said the committee would grant the request to provide copies of documents the panel intends to question Snyder about if he committed, in writing, to appear at the hearing.

Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, the attorneys representing more than 40 former team employees, called this week for the committee to issue a subpoena to compel Snyder’s testimony.

The NFL informed the committee Wednesday that Goodell had accepted its invitation to testify.

Tiffani Johnston, a former cheerleader and marketing manager for the team, told the committee during a congressional roundtable in February that Snyder harassed her at a team dinner, putting his hand on her thigh and pressing her toward his limo. Snyder called the accusations made directly against him “outright lies.”

The committee’s investigation also uncovered allegations of financial improprieties involving the team and Snyder. The Commanders denied committing any financial improprieties.

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