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Bruce Allen testifies for 10 hours in congressional Washington NFL probe

Bruce Allen, right, spoke with Daniel Snyder before a September 2019 game in Philadelphia. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)
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Bruce Allen, the former team president of Washington’s NFL franchise, gave a deposition remotely for about 10 hours Tuesday to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

The committee is conducting an investigation of allegations of widespread sexual harassment within the team, now known as the Washington Commanders, including accusations made against owner Daniel Snyder. Snyder has denied all allegations made against him.

“The Committee is continuing to investigate the decades-long workplace misconduct at the Washington Commanders and the NFL’s failure to address it,” a spokesperson for the committee said in a statement. “Mr. Allen served in senior roles under team owner Dan Snyder for many years, so his testimony is important for the Committee to fully understand these serious issues and advance reforms to protect workers in the future.”

Allen was subpoenaed by the committee for the deposition, according to the spokesperson.

Daniel Snyder conducted ‘shadow investigation’ of accusers, panel finds

Allen was not willing to testify without a subpoena. Had he done so, he could have been accused of violating his separation agreement with the team, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The deposition was conducted privately. Such depositions typically are conducted by committee lawyers and staff members.

Allen was not available to comment. His attorney did not respond to a request for comment. The deposition, which was scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m., according to a committee notice, ended a little after 9:30 p.m., according to the committee spokesperson.

“I am pleased that the Committee on Oversight [and] Reform continues its important work in investigating the allegations of a toxic workplace culture and financial improprieties at the Washington Commanders,” attorney Lisa Banks, who represents more than 40 team employees, said in a statement. “Given his long tenure and close relationship to Dan Snyder and Commanders top management, Bruce Allen should be in a unique position to shed light on the many important issues being examined by the Committee.”

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), the committee’s chairwoman, wrote to fellow committee members in a 29-page memo in June that the panel’s investigation had found evidence that Snyder and members of his legal team conducted a “shadow investigation” and compiled a “dossier” targeting former team employees, their attorneys and journalists in an attempt to discredit his accusers and shift blame.

According to Maloney’s memo, the committee’s investigation found evidence that Snyder and his attorneys sent private investigators to the homes of former team cheerleaders seeking derogatory information about Allen and combed through more than 400,000 emails on Allen’s inactive team account in an effort to convince the NFL that Allen was “responsible for the team’s toxic work culture.”

Snyder fired Allen in December 2019 after he spent a decade as the team’s president.

Lawyers representing Snyder provided attorney Beth Wilkinson, who was overseeing a league investigation of the team’s workplace, and the NFL with the Allen emails, according to the evidence found by the committee’s investigation.

An attorney for Snyder “identified the specific inappropriate Bruce Allen emails in attempting to demonstrate that Bruce Allen had created a toxic environment at the Washington Commanders,” Maloney’s memo said.

Daniel Snyder faces House committee under oath for more than 10 hours

Several of those emails later appeared in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, including some in which Jon Gruden, then the coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, used racist, homophobic and misogynistic language over approximately seven years of correspondence with Allen and others while Gruden worked for ESPN.

Gruden resigned from the Raiders in October after the emails were revealed. He filed a lawsuit against the NFL in November, accusing the league and Commissioner Roger Goodell of using leaked emails to “publicly sabotage Gruden’s career” and pressure him into resigning. The NFL has said it did not leak Gruden’s emails.

Tanya Snyder, Daniel Snyder’s wife and the team’s co-CEO, told fellow NFL franchise owners at a league meeting in October that neither she nor her husband was responsible for the leaked emails, multiple people present at that meeting said at the time.

The NFL said in a filing to a Nevada court last month that Gruden continued to send “derogatory emails consistently” while serving as the Raiders’ coach.

Daniel Snyder gave a voluntary deposition under oath to the committee remotely for more than 10 hours in July. Goodell testified remotely to the committee during a June 22 hearing on Capitol Hill.

In April, the committee detailed allegations of financial improprieties by Snyder and the team in a letter to the Federal Trade Commission. The attorneys general for D.C., Karl A. Racine (D), and Virginia, Jason S. Miyares (R), announced they would investigate. The team has denied committing any financial improprieties.

The NFL is conducting an investigation being led by Mary Jo White, a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and a former chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission. After Wilkinson’s investigation, the NFL announced in July 2021 that the team had been fined $10 million and that Tanya Snyder would assume responsibility for the franchise’s daily operations for an unspecified period.

Tiffani Johnston, a former cheerleader and marketing manager for the team, said at 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 denied the accusations, calling them “outright lies.”

The Washington Post reported in June details of an employee’s claim that Snyder sexually assaulted her during a flight on his private plane in April 2009. Later that year, the team agreed to pay the employee, whom it fired, $1.6 million in a confidential settlement. In a 2020 court filing, Snyder called the woman’s claims “meritless.”