Virginia AG to open inquiry into Commanders - 4 minutes read
ASHBURN, Va. -- The Virginia attorney general's office will open an investigation into allegations that the Washington Commanders engaged in financial improprieties, according to a letter it emailed the franchise Monday.
The letter comes after the House Oversight and Reform Committee sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission on April 12. That letter was also sent to the office of Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares as well as to the attorney generals for Maryland and Washington, D.C., informing them of alleged financial improprieties by the team.
Miyares told the team he felt it was his "responsibility to carefully examine the material facts after it was brought to my attention."
In the letter addressed to Washington's attorney, Jordan Siev, Miyares requested "full cooperation and transparency" during their inquiry.
"I have not prejudged the issues," Miyares wrote.
The Commanders on Monday referred to a previous statement by a team spokesperson that read, "The team categorically denies any suggestion of financial impropriety of any kind at any time. We adhere to strict internal processes that are consistent with industry and accounting standards, are audited annually by a globally respected independent auditing firm, and are also subject to regular audits by the NFL. We continue to cooperate fully with the Committee's work."
The investigation will be led by Steven Popps, deputy attorney general for the civil division. It will involve the consumer protection section with the civil division but could expand to the criminal division based on the findings.
Former Washington employee Jason Friedman, a former vice president of sales and customer service, made the allegations during an interview with the committee on March 14. Friedman, who spent 24 years with the team before being fired in October 2020, provided email exchanges with former high-ranking officials.
Friedman accused the team of withholding security deposits from season-ticket holders -- or making them hard to obtain -- and of keeping two accounting books, allowing them to keep money that would have been earmarked for the NFL's revenue sharing pool.
The team responded with a 105-page document it also sent to the FTC on April 18, rebutting the claims. They included emails that they say provided proof they correctly accounted for revenue, as well as signed affidavits from four former high-ranking team officials.
The team also said Friedman, whom they called a disgruntled former employee, would not have been included in finance or accounting meetings, and therefore would not have complete knowledge of their financial matters.
"We are pleased that the Attorney General of Virginia will conduct an official inquiry into the facts our client revealed about his experiences while working for the Washington Commanders," said a statement from Friedman's attorneys. "He is prepared to cooperate fully and answer any questions from the Virginia Attorney General's office or any other government agency."
Also, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine announced Monday that his office has been investigating the Commanders and owner Dan Snyder regarding the allegations of sexual harassment and workplace misconduct. Racine's office also is investigating Washington's ticket sales practices. Their investigation into the workplace culture started last fall.
According to a spokesperson, his office has collected more than half a million pages of documents from the Commanders and the NFL.
In a statement, Racine said, "The disturbing details of misconduct by the Washington Commanders and Dan Snyder that we've seen in extensive public reporting are deeply troubling. No one should face mistreatment at work and no organization can evade the law. The Commanders' players and employees, and District residents, deserve a thorough investigation that determines exactly what happened and holds those accountable for any illegal conduct."
Congress also continues to investigate Washington's workplace culture. During a roundtable session on Feb. 3, former Washington employee Tiffani Johnston alleged that owner Dan Snyder put his hand on her leg during a dinner and also tried to force her into his limousine, an account Friedman corroborated.
The NFL also is investigating Johnston's claim. She did not talk to attorney Beth Wilkinson during the league's initial investigation that resulted in a $10 million fine of the franchise.
Source: www.espn.com - NFL