Daniel Snyder answers questions from Congress about harassment claims

Washington Chiefs owner Daniel Snyder testified Thursday morning before a congressional committee investigating widespread allegations of misconduct by his team, including claims from former employees who directly accused him of misconduct.

Snyder made the voluntary deposition via video conference from Israel, where his attorney said he was celebrating the first anniversary of his mother’s death. Testimony before the House Oversight and Reforms Committee over the terms of his appearance ended in weeks of back-and-forth, culminating in an agreement announced Thursday morning that Snyder would answer questions under oath.

Snyder’s deposition was taken in person, and the information obtained could be released at the committee’s discretion, though it was unclear whether it intended to do so.

Topics on which Snyder is expected to be questioned include direct allegations of misconduct against him. At a congressional hearing in February, a woman who was the team’s marketing and events coordinator said that Snyder put his hand on her hip during a work dinner in 2005 or 2006 and that she later resisted his attempts to drive her in his limousine. Another former employee told the same panel that Snyder hosted a work event at his home in Colorado for which team executives hired prostitutes. At the time, Snyder called the allegations “outright lies.”

Additionally, The Washington Post reported that a team employee accused Snyder of sexual harassment and assault in 2009 before reaching a $1.6 million nondisclosure agreement.

Snyder was also expected to face questions about the committee’s findings that he resorted to a “shadow investigation” to prevent the NFL from inspecting his team’s workplace. The committee’s eight-month investigation found that Snyder used private investigators to harass and intimidate witnesses and created a 100-page dossier that focused on victims, witnesses and reporters who shared “credible public allegations” against the team.

Snyder declined two requests to appear at a June 22 hearing where NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell testified before the committee. He cited a business conflict and later questioned the committee’s process as his lawyers negotiated the terms of his appearance in Congress.

Snyder’s representatives argued that his voluntary appearance did not require him to take an oath and disputed the committee’s position that a subpoena was necessary to get him to answer questions about nondisclosure agreements.

The committee, chaired by Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, a New York Democrat, agreed to Snyder’s voluntary deposition after he committed to “full and complete testimony” about his role in creating the commanders’ toxic work environment and any interference. The NFL is investigating “without being hidden behind nondisclosure or other confidentiality agreements,” a committee spokesman said in a statement.

However, the committee said it was “prepared to compel his testimony on any unanswered questions upon his return to the United States” by subpoenaing him.

The committee began its investigation in October, four months after the NFL fined the Chiefs $10 million and asked Snyder to step aside from most day-to-day operations at the team after its own investigation was completed.

Goodell testified in June that there had been a “substantial transformation” of commanders’ culture and human resources practices, adding that “the workplace of commanders today is not like the workplace that was described to this committee.”

But Goodell did not release a written report on the findings of the league-sponsored investigation, which has led critics to accuse the NFL of withholding details about allegations of harassment and abuse against women, including some that may have involved Snyder.

Last month, the committee released a 29-page memo detailing the findings of its audit of team operations, including Snyder’s role in sinking the NFL’s investigation.

Earlier this year, the NFL launched a second investigation into the chiefs based on allegations made against Snyder at a February congressional roundtable. In addition to new claims of workplace misconduct, a former longtime ticket executive has accused the team of potentially illegal financial practices, including keeping “two sets of books” to hide hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue that should have been shared. Along with all 32 NFL clubs. The committee referred those claims, which the team denied, to the Federal Trade Commission in April.

It is unclear whether the committee’s deposition of Snyder will be his last major undertaking. Many members of Congress will go on recess in August. Malone faces a stiff challenge from Jerrold Nadler in particular to keep his seat, as redistricting in New York made his primary race competitive in August.

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