Sports

Dan Snyder, Commanders, NFL, and Roger Goodell all sued by D.C. Attorney General

Karl Racine, the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, announced in a Thursday press conference the filing of a Consumer Protection Act lawsuit against Dan Snyder, the Washington Commanders, the NFL, and Commissioner Roger Goodell, regarding their “deception” regarding an investigation into the organization regarding workplace misconduct and sexual harassment.

The findings of his office’s investigation into Snyder and the Commanders, and the civil lawsuit against the team and the other named defendants, comes following a lengthy investigation into the organization. According to the Attorney General, the basis for the suit is how the defendants “misled the public” regarding the investigation into the workplace culture and toxic environment at the Commanders:

They did all of this to “hide the truth,” and “let the profits continue to roll.”

Attorney General Racine stated at the outset of his remarks that his office will “hold bad actors accountable when they cause harm.” He also stated that “no one, no matter how powerful they are, is above the law,” and that “for years the team, and its owner, have caused very real, and very serious, harm.”

He also stated that their investigation, and the evidence, demonstrates violations of the consumer rights of D.C. residents. According to Attorney General Racine, Snyder was not only aware of the “toxic” environment, but he also “participated” in the misconduct and the toxic environment, according to Attorney General Racine.

Attorney General Racine stated that his office was “standing up for DC residents who were lied to and deceived.”

According to the Attorney General, the NFL and the Commanders entered into an agreement that “enabled information about the investigation to be shared with Mr. Snyder, and gave him the keys to determine what could, and what could not, be shared with the public.” In addition, the NFL “turned a blind eye” to Snyder’s attempts to influence the investigation, and his attempts to “buy” the silence of witnesses.

“We were led to believe that the public would not be left out of the process. We were. We were led to believe that real change would happen. We’re still waiting.”

Attorney General Racine outlined that the process going forward would be “public,” and that the defendants will have “every right” to respond, and even have the complaint dismissed.

In a response to questions regarding the involvement of the NFL and Commissioner Goodell, Attorney General Racine stated that Commissioner Goodell was “intimately involved” in the decision-making. “They [the NFL] told the public that they were coming in to conduct an independent investigation … we know that there was no accountability.”

“That is a violation of law in the District of Columbia under our Consumer Protection Act,” said Attorney General Racine. “The District of Columbia … has a Consumer Protection Act. The Consumer Protection Act in the District of Columbia is the envy of many other jurisdictions, because it is broad. What it covers is any material misstatement that a merchant or business makes that could impact consumers in the District of Columbia.”

“The Consumer Protection Act is all about D.C. resident’s right to be told the truth.”

Attorney General Racine stated that above all, he was seeking “accountability.” As he said during the press conference, he was seeking accountability for the victims and witnesses who stood up “in the face of intimidation.”

At the closing of his remarks, he was given a chance to address concerns that this was simply a “grandstanding” move on his behalf. According to Attorney General Racine, “we think it is damn important that there be accountability … we’re bringing this matter as a civil matter … so that the public might have a sense of accountability. Again, no one is above the law.”

Attorney General Racine continued: “The public needs to know about an incredible product that I spend a lot of time watching, the National Football League. It needs to know that when the National Football League tells you that … treating people fairly in the workplace matters … that there actually will be accountability.”

Perhaps the biggest news from Thursday, however, was the indication that Attorney General Racine’s office might not be done:

The announcement from Attorney General Racine of the Consumer Protection Act suit is just the latest controversy surrounding Snyder and the Commanders, but the most serious. Until today, while the team was facing investigations from the halls of Congress to the NFL, those were just investigations and Congressional hearings.

Now the organization is directly implicated in a legal matter.

And while the Congressional investigations may or may not continue, with control of the U.S. House of Representatives still undecided after the Tuesday midterm elections, this matter in the District of Columbia is sure to continue.

How the District of Columbia Attorney General’s office became involved dates back a period of time. Last spring, the United States House Committee on Oversight and Reform, in the middle of their own investigation into the Commanders and allegations of workplace harassment, sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission. In the letter Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, outlined how their investigation into the Commanders uncovered evidence that the franchise “ … may have engaged in a troubling, long-running, and potentially unlawful pattern of financial conduct that may have victimized thousands of team fans and the National Football League.”

According to a report The Washington Post last month, the alleged financial improprieties are just part of the investigation being conducted by Attorney General Racine. In that report, it was indicated that Attorney General Racine is also investigating the allegations of workplace harassment and misconduct, and that investigation has been underway since 2021.

Racine’s announcement comes as Snyder’s future in the NFL appears shakier than ever. Following explosive reporting from ESPN last month regarding the lengths the owner was willing to go to hold onto the franchise, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay opened the door to Snyder being removed as one of the league’s owners.

It was also announced recently by the team that Snyder and his wife Tanya retained Bank of America Securities to “explore” possible ownership changes, a move that has fueled speculation that Snyder will indeed sell the team.

Now we wait for a response from Snyder and the Commanders. If past is prologue, you can imagine the organization will forcefully push back on today’s announcement. Prior to Attorney General Racine’s press conference, the organization put out a statement invoking rookie running back Brian Robinson, who was shot before the season began. That statement, attributed to external counsel, received swift condemnation on social media and prompted a response from Team President Jason Wright.



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