Allegations against Commanders owner Dan Snyder have come out, including an effort to undermine testimony, homophobic remarks, and a sexual assault case.
The Washington Post has been at the forefront of exploring the toxic workplace culture that Dan Snyder’s Washington football team cultivated over years: a workplace that allowed the sexual harassment of female employees and the secret distribution of a lewd video of Washington cheerleaders.
That was only the beginning of scandal for Washington, a team that has since rebranded from its longtime racist name — one that Snyder fought hard to hold onto — to become the Commanders as of this February. Snyder has endeavored to clear his name after each scandal, even naming wife Tanya Snyder as his co-CEO after the sexual harassment allegations began pouring in, but the Snyder situation has only gotten continually worse. The more Washington Post exposés that come out, the more the public learns about the depth of Snyder’s role in the toxic environment he cultivated over decades in D.C.
Now, Snyder is the subject of a Congressional probe and is currently being investigated by the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform. Snyder has been subpoenaed to show up in court and has failed to do so as of yet, and so has NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Instead, Snyder sent an internal memo to the Commanders organization with the subject line, “A Reminder of Two Years of Progress.”
At every opportunity, the reports on Snyder indicate that he has not only tried to cover up any wrongdoing, but he has actively shifted blame to others. With that in mind, here are three key takeaways from the headlines surrounding Dan Snyder.
3. Dan Snyder launched a “shadow investigation” to discredit Beth Wilkinson’s probe
As the findings of the Congressional probe are currently being heard before the U.S. House Oversight Committee,
According to ESPN’s Tisha Thompson, the U.S. House Oversight Committee “released a 29-page memo on its findings, supported by more than 600 pages of depositions.” Per those accounts, the Committee concluded the following:
“Snyder used subpoena authority available to parties involved in overseas lawsuits to obtain correspondence from former president Bruce Allen and other former employees. The goal, according to the memo, was to build a case to the NFL that Allen was to blame for the team’s toxic workplace environment, and that former employees were conspiring to disparage Snyder.”
Not only did Dan Snyder try to pin everything wrong with the Washington workplace on Bruce Allen, but Snyder tried to manipulate an independent investigation led by attorney Beth Wilkinson. Ironically, in an effort to combat the “smear campaign” he believed others conducted against him, Snyder tried to disparage those who came out against him in the Post.
“The committee says Snyder used a common-interest agreement between the Commanders and the NFL to ‘attempt to steer the direction’ of the independent investigation into the team led by attorney Beth Wilkinson and to discredit the people accusing him, including those cited in reports published by The Washington Post, by providing the NFL and Wilkinson with ‘derogatory information about them.’”
2. Former Washington COO David Pauken faced sexist, homophobic remarks from Dan Snyder for refusing to sexualize cheerleaders
Thompson’s ESPN report includes several quotes from David Pauken, who was the chief operating officer for the Commanders from 2001 to 2006. Pauken testified that he was uncomfortable with “the way the NFL sexualizes cheerleaders”, but Snyder’s behavior took that to an unbelievable degree. According to Pauken, Snyder wanted to sell access to cheerleader photo shoots so that sponsors and suite holders had an opportunity to gawk at them for a price. Pauken declined.
Because Pauken did not want to sexualize cheerleaders, Snyder began making snide assumptions about Pauken’s sexuality.
“Anybody who likes girls likes cheerleaders, and if you don’t, if you’re uncomfortable with the cheerleaders, maybe you don’t like girls,” Pauken said during his testimony as he described the way Snyder spoke to him.
Once, Snyder blatantly asked his friend, “Do you think Dave [Pauken] is gay?” The friend replied that he thought he was.
According to Pauken, Snyder would say things like, “Yeah, he has to be gay. As ugly as these cheerleaders are. Pauken, are you gay? You must be gay. How could you have a cheerleading squad that looks like this?”
Pauken also testified to two instances in which Snyder disproportionately punished female employees while male employees remained unscathed. In one instance, Snyder fired two cheerleaders for having a consensual sexual relationship with a Washington player. Nothing happened to the player. Per the memo, Snyder wanted to “minimize distractions, temptations for players.”
In another instance, Snyder learned that a man on the team’s coaching staff groped a woman on the public relations team. Instead of discipling the coach for sexual harassment, Snyder instructed the employee who had been groped to “stay away from the coach.”
Testimony also confirmed that Larry Michael sexually harassed Washington employees, which Snyder ignored.
1. Dan Snyder was accused of sexual assault in 2009
A day before the Congressional hearing on Wednesday, an investigative report by the Washington Post’s Will Hobson revealed that Dan Snyder was accused of sexual assault in 2009. The Washington Post’s Nicki Jhabvala shared the article and included key details on the case, such as the fact that the investigation into the woman’s claims was overseen by David Donovan, the same attorney who sued Beth Wilkinson to keep the 2009 incident out of the 2020 investigation into Snyder.
While the Post reported the 2009 incident two years ago, the details were unknown. According to Hobson’s recent report, Snyder asked the former female employee “for sex, groping her and attempting to remove her clothes.” The alleged incident reportedly took place aboard a team plane, and a $1.6 million settlement was eventually reached between Snyder and the former employee. Per the terms of the settlement, the woman was not allowed to publicly disclose the allegations or sue Snyder for his behavior.
Unsurprisingly, Snyder has also claimed that this is another attempt to smear his name and reputation, and a team investigation concluded that the woman was trying to extort Snyder at the time. Attorney Howard Shapiro also mentioned that the woman “wore revealing clothing and flirted with other men on the trip to Las Vegas” in an effort to discredit her accusation.
From 2009 to 2022, there are widespread, consistent accounts that Snyder and his associates have exploited and sexualized — and when advances are rejected, shamed and blamed — women in the Washington organization.
While the NFL is an exclusive billionaire’s club, everything that Snyder has done is finally coming to light, and there may be grounds to wrestle his Washington ownership away from him. In a league that’s known for its poor track record in regards to sexual harassment and assault allegations, the Congressional hearing may finally be enough to oust Snyder after all these years.