Sports

DC attorney general sues Washington Commander, owner Dan Snyder and NFL for defrauding residents

DC attorney general sues Washington Commander, owner Dan Snyder and NFL for defrauding residents



CNN

D.C. Attorney General Carl Racine announced a lawsuit Thursday against Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder, the team and the NFL, alleging they conspired to defraud D.C. residents. NFL probes team’s toxic workplace culture and allegations of sexual harassment.

“For years the team and its owner committed very real and very serious harm and then lied about it to avoid accountability and continue to profit,” Racine said Thursday. “So far they seem to have gotten away with it, but it stopped today.”

The lawsuit alleges fraudulent efforts aimed at keeping fans in the dark and increasing the team’s profits. The lawsuit cites the District of Columbia’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act, which gives the attorney general broad authority to hold individuals or companies liable for misleading consumers.

The AG’s investigation began last fall and found that Snyder lied to D.C. residents when he denied knowing anything about allegations of a hostile work environment and a culture of sexual harassment within the team, according to Racine.

“In fact, the evidence shows that Snyder was not only aware of the toxic culture within his organization, he encouraged it and he participated in it,” Racine said. “Mr. Snyder exercised a high level of personal control over all of the commanders, and his misconduct allowed others to treat the women in similar demeaning ways.”

D.C. Attorney General Carl Racine announced the case at a news conference Thursday.

The NFL and commanders launched what they billed as an independent investigation into the allegations, but they secretly entered into an agreement to give Snyder power over what could be shared with the public, the lawsuit alleges. At the same time, Snyder and the team attempted to interfere and obstruct the investigation, the lawsuit said.

Ultimately, the NFL issued a brief press release summarizing the investigation’s findings but said it had not received a written investigation report due to privacy concerns, the lawsuit states.

“Does any part of this investigation sound independent? Does any of this sound like accountability? Rasin Dr. “Of course not. That’s why we’re suing.”

Racine is now seeking unspecified monetary penalties for each incident in which the parties lied to residents through July 2020. The attorney general said fines could run into the millions of dollars The lawsuit also seeks a court order forcing the NFL to release all findings from its 10-month investigation into the commanders’ workplace culture.

Commander Counsel John Brownlee and Stuart Nash issued a joint statement in response to the case.

“More than two years ago, Dan and Tanya Snyder acknowledged that an unacceptable workplace culture had existed within their organization for several years and apologized numerous times for allowing it to happen,” they said. “We agree with AG Racine on one thing: the public needs to know the truth. Although the lawsuit repeats many innuendos, half-truths and lies, we welcome this opportunity to defend the organization – for the first time – in a court of law and once and for all, what is true and what is fiction? ”

NFL vice president of communications Brian McCarthy dismissed the allegations as baseless.

“The independent investigation into workplace misconduct by Washington commanders was conducted thoroughly and comprehensively by Beth Wilkinson and her law firm. After the investigation was completed, the NFL released a summary of Ms. Wilkinson’s findings and imposed a record-setting fine against the club and its ownership,” he said.

“We today reject the legally frivolous and factually baseless allegations made by the D.C. Attorney General against the NFL and Commissioner Goodell and will vigorously defend against those claims.”

The announcement is the latest issue for commanders, Newly branded team Several major investigations are pending. Once one of the NFL’s premier franchises, the team has had minimal success on the field and a series of off-field controversies over the past two decades under Snyder.

Schneider announced last week that he was considering selling the team and that he and his wife had hired Bank of America Securities to “consider a potential transaction.”

Complaints Derived from a Washington Post report In 2020, 15 female ex-Commander employees and two journalists who covered the team accused team members of sexual harassment and verbal abuse.

After an investigation by attorney Beth Wilkinson, the NFL fined the team $10 million and Snyder handed over control of the franchise’s day-to-day operations to his wife, Tanya Snyder.

Yet the NFL refused to publicly release the results of the investigation, prompting Congress to engage in a review by the House Oversight Committee. Commissioner Goodell testified before the panel in June that the commanders’ culture was “not only unprofessional, but toxic for a very long time.”

Goodell said that The team did not receive a written report from Wilkinson To protect the privacy of those who participated in internal investigations.

Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, who represent more than 40 former Commander employees, released a statement praising the lawsuit and calling on the NFL to release the Wilkinson investigation.

“Today’s civil complaint filed by the DC Attorney General against the Washington Commander, Dan Snyder, the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell is further evidence of what we have known for a long time: that both the Commander and the NFL are complicit in a scheme of deception and lies. To cover up decades of sexual harassment and abuse by the team, which affected not only the victims of that abuse, but also consumers in the District of Columbia.

“The filing of this complaint marks an important step in validating the experiences of brave women and men and, for the first time, achieving a level of transparency into the scope of misconduct.

“For far too long, the NFL has actively covered up the Washington commanders’ wrongdoing and shielded Mr. Snyder from accountability at every turn. The NFL must understand that sexual harassment and abuse cannot be tolerated or hidden.”

The off-field issues have also been felt by the players and the team, now sitting at a disappointing 4-5 record, good for last place in the NFC East.

“Since I’ve been here, it’s been a dark cloud over our organization,” Commander cornerback Benjamin Saint-Just told the Journal de Quebec on Saturday. “Every time something good happens on the field, something bad happens off the field. A fresh start will give us new energy and regain the confidence of the fans.”

Commanders have also come under fire for an inflammatory statement posted on Wednesday that they used in August. Shooting Brian Robinson Jr. running back to defer against the case.

Racine’s office announced Wednesday that he would hold a press conference the next day to make a “major announcement” related to the commanders. In response, commanders issued a statement that cited Robinson’s shooting and criticized his hometown for “out-of-control violent crime.”

“Less than three months ago, a 23-year-old player on our team was shot multiple times in broad daylight,” a commanders spokesman said in a statement. “Despite violent crime spiraling out of control in DC, commanders in Washington today took to Twitter to learn for the first time that the DC Attorney General will hold a press conference tomorrow to make ‘a major announcement’ related to the organization.

“It is unfortunate that, in his final days in office, Mr. Racine seems more interested in making splashy headlines based on offbeat legal theories than working hard to make the streets safer for our citizens who shot one of our players.”

Robinson, a rookie running back, was Shot twice in attempted armed robbery In August. He missed the first month of the season due to injury but has since recovered. Two teenagers have been arrested in connection with the shooting last week.

Robinson’s agent, Ryan Williams, tweeted his displeasure with the commanders’ statement Wednesday night.

“Until an hour ago, commanders handled Brian Robinson’s situation with great care, sincerity and class. And I was very grateful for that,” Williams said in a tweet Wednesday. “While I know there are some great people in that building, whoever is hiding behind that statement is not one of them.”

Commander President Jason Wright issued another statement later Wednesday, saying the earlier statement “reveals our external counsel’s ongoing frustration with the attorney general’s office.”

“Lawyers’ legitimate frustration with AG is and should have been separate and distinct from mentioning the horrific crime affecting our player,” Wright said.


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