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D.C., Virginia AGs are investigating allegations against Commanders

The Washington Commanders have denied any financial improprieties. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)
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Attorneys general Karl A. Racine of D.C. and Jason S. Miyares of Virginia are investigating a variety of allegations against the Washington Commanders and their owner, Daniel Snyder.

Racine’s office said Monday that it has been investigating the team and Snyder for “allegations of sexual harassment and workplace misconduct, the team’s cooperation with, and statements about, the investigation into these allegations, and more recently, the team’s ticket sales practices.”

That announcement came after Miyares told the team earlier Monday that his office will investigate allegations of financial improprieties by the Commanders and Snyder that were detailed this month by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. The team has denied committing any financial improprieties.

“The disturbing details of misconduct by the Washington Commanders and Dan Snyder that we’ve seen in extensive public reporting are deeply troubling,” said Racine, a Democrat, in a statement released by his office. “No one should face mistreatment at work, and no organization can evade the law. The Commanders’ players and employees, and District residents, deserve a thorough investigation that determines exactly what happened and holds those accountable for any illegal conduct.”

Congress details allegations of Commanders’ ‘unlawful’ conduct to FTC

Racine’s office said its investigation of the harassment allegations “has been underway since the fall of 2021 based on both public reporting and independent investigative work.” The office said it has obtained more than 500,000 pages of documents from the Commanders and the NFL, adding that “both are still providing more for review.”

Earlier, Miyares disclosed his office’s investigation in a three-paragraph letter to Jordan Siev, a lawyer for the team.

“The Office of the Attorney General of Virginia is conducting an official inquiry into this matter,” wrote Miyares, a Republican. “To be clear, I have not prejudged the issues raised regarding the Commanders. However, I view it as my responsibility to carefully examine the material facts regarding this matter after it was brought to my attention. I request full cooperation and transparency from your client during this inquiry.”

The Commanders declined to comment on the new investigations, instead referring to a previous statement in which they denied committing any financial improprieties.

“The team categorically denies any suggestion of financial impropriety of any kind at any time,” the team said in that statement. “We adhere to strict internal processes that are consistent with industry and accounting standards, are audited annually by a globally respected independent auditing firm, and are also subject to regular audits by the NFL. We continue to cooperate fully with the Committee’s work.”

Virginia’s probe will be conducted by Steven G. Popps, a deputy attorney general, according to the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post.

Racine and Miyares were among the three attorneys general copied on an April 12 letter from Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), the House oversight committee’s chairwoman, and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), the chairman of the subcommittee on economic and consumer policy, to Lina M. Khan, the chair of the Federal Trade Commission. That letter said Snyder and the Commanders “may have engaged in a troubling, long-running, and potentially unlawful pattern of financial conduct.” It detailed allegations made to the committee by Jason Friedman, a former ticketing executive for the team.

The other attorney general copied on the committee’s letter — Maryland’s Brian E. Frosh, a Democrat — previously said that if Friedman’s allegations are true, the team might have violated the state’s consumer protection laws. Frosh said Monday that his office will not discuss investigations.

The FTC has not commented on the allegations, other than to acknowledge receipt of the committee’s letter.

Commanders deny allegations of financial improprieties in lengthy letter to FTC

“We are pleased that the Attorney General of Virginia will conduct an official inquiry into the facts our client revealed about his experiences while working for the Washington Commanders,” Friedman’s attorneys, Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, said in a statement. “He is prepared to cooperate fully and answer any questions from the Virginia Attorney General’s office or any other government agency.”

Friedman, a former vice president of sales and customer service who worked for the franchise for 24 years, told the committee that the team withheld as much as $5 million in refundable deposits from season ticket holders and also hid revenue that was supposed to be shared among NFL owners, according to the letter written by Maloney and Krishnamoorthi.

According to that letter, Friedman told the committee that the team maintained “two sets of books,” including one set of financial records used to underreport certain ticket revenue to the NFL. The letter detailed allegations that the Commanders improperly attributed revenue to being derived from a Navy-Notre Dame football game or a Kenny Chesney concert at FedEx Field so it wouldn’t be part of the NFL’s revenue-sharing pool.

The letter referenced evidence that it said indicated the revenue gained by the team through such means was known internally as “juice.” The team’s financial improprieties may have extended to tickets registered in NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s name, the letter said.

The Commanders denied the allegations in an April 18 letter from Siev to the FTC. The team’s letter called the accusations “baseless” and contended “no investigation is warranted.”

Congressional Republicans, Democrats spar over Commanders allegations

Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), the committee’s ranking Republican member, wrote in a two-page letter Thursday to Maloney that the investigation was “reckless.” Republicans consistently have questioned the committee’s investigation of the NFL’s handling of sexual harassment allegations in the team’s workplace and accusations of financial improprieties.

Maloney, in a response to Comer’s letter, said in a statement Thursday that the “Committee’s investigation into the team’s toxic workplace culture and the NFL’s handling of that matter will continue so we can ensure that employers are held accountable for their conduct and American workers are safe from harassment, discrimination, and other workplace misconduct.”

Laura Vozzella, Erin Cox and Liz Clarke contributed to this report.

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