NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says he has no authority to take away Daniel Snyder as proprietor of the Washington Commanders amid ongoing scrutiny into the group’s office tradition and accusations from ladies staff of pervasive sexual harassment by staff executives.
Goodell testified Wednesday earlier than members of Congress at a listening to by the Home Committee on Oversight and Reform. At one level close to the top of greater than two hours of testimony, Goodell was questioned by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan), who requested whether or not Goodell and the league are “prepared to do extra” to punish Snyder.
After initially asking whether or not he would advocate Snyder’s removing as proprietor of the Commanders, Tlaib adopted up by asking Goodell: “Will you take away him?”
“I haven’t got the authority to take away him, Congresswoman,” Goodell replied.
An NFL proprietor might be eliminated solely by a three-quarters (so, 24 out of 32) majority vote of fellow house owners, though Goodell does have the flexibility to formally advocate such a vote.
Snyder was invited to testify however declined, citing abroad enterprise commitments and issues about due course of. Committee chair Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) introduced throughout the listening to that she plans to situation a subpoena to compel him to testify.
“The NFL is unwilling or unable to carry Mr. Snyder accountable,” Maloney mentioned. “That’s the reason I’m saying now my intent to situation a subpoena for Mr. Snyder for a deposition subsequent week. The committee won’t be deterred in its investigation into the Washington Commanders.”
Goodell advised the committee that the staff’s tradition has reworked because of an investigation led by legal professional Beth Wilkinson and that Snyder “has been held accountable.”
After Wilkinson offered her findings to Goodell final 12 months, the NFL fined the staff $ 10 million and Snyder stepped away from its day-to-day operations. Nevertheless, the league didn’t launch a written report of Wilkinson’s findings, a call Goodell mentioned was supposed to guard the privateness of former staff who spoke to investigators.
Following Wednesday’s listening to, the Commanders despatched a letter to staff staff – a duplicate of which was obtained by ESPN – that mentioned partially, “We consider the statements which have been made within the vital media of our group don’t precisely mirror our constructive transformation and the present actuality of the Washington Commanders group that exists right this moment. “
The committee launched the findings of its eight-month investigation earlier than Wednesday’s listening to began, accusing Snyder of conducting his personal “shadow investigation” that sought to discredit former staff, hiring non-public investigators to intimidate witnesses, and utilizing an abroad lawsuit as a pretext to acquire cellphone data and emails.
The 29-page memo alleges Snyder tried to discredit the individuals accusing him and different staff executives of misconduct and in addition tried to affect an investigation of the staff performed for the NFL by Wilkinson’s agency.
Snyder’s attorneys offered the NFL with a 100-slide PowerPoint presentation together with “non-public textual content messages, emails, cellphone logs and name transcripts, and social media posts from almost 50 people who Mr. Snyder apparently believed had been concerned in a conspiracy to disparage him,” the committee mentioned.
When requested concerning the alleged “shadow” investigation, Goodell mentioned: “Any motion that might discourage individuals from coming ahead could be inappropriate.”
In an announcement, a spokesperson for Snyder characterised the report and the listening to as “a politically charged present trial” and mentioned Congress shouldn’t be investigating “a difficulty a soccer staff addressed years in the past.”
Attorneys Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, who characterize greater than 40 former staff staff, once more referred to as on Goodell to launch a report from the Wilkinson probe, calling it “gorgeous and disheartening” to listen to him say Snyder has been held accountable.
“At this time, the committee launched a damning report demonstrating that Snyder and his attorneys additionally surveyed and investigated complainants, their attorneys, witnesses and journalists, which Goodell knew about and did nothing to deal with,” Banks and Katz mentioned in an announcement.
Maloney has launched laws to curb using office nondisclosure agreements and to supply protections for workers whose skilled photographs are used inappropriately. Among the many accusations in opposition to the Commanders are that staff staff produced a video of lewd outtakes from a photograph shoot involving the cheerleading squad.
Republicans on the committee accused Democrats of going after an NFL staff to distract from extra urgent points and exceeding the scope of the committee’s mission.
“A core duty of this committee is to conduct oversight of the chief department, however this complete Congress, Democrats have turned a blind eye to the Biden administration,” mentioned Kentucky GOP Rep. James Comer, the committee’s rating member. “As an alternative, the Oversight committee is investigating a single non-public group for office misconduct that occurred years in the past.”
ESPN’s Tisha Thompson and The Related Press contributed to this report.