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NFL owner Dan Snyder ‘engaged in unlawful financial conduct’: House committee

Dan Snyder, the owner of the NFL’s Washington Commanders, is alleged to have committed financial crimes including failing to report ticket revenue and withholding refundable deposits from season subscribers, a House panel claims. Lawmakers from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform made the allegations against Snyder and the Commanders in a letter to the Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday. The letter, which was first obtained by the Washington Post, claims that Snyder “may have engaged in a troubling, long-running, and potentially unlawful pattern of financial conduct.” At one point in 2016, the committee alleged, the team retained up to $5 million from 2,000 season ticket holders while also concealing sharable revenue from the league, according to the letter. The allegations first came to light after one of the team’s long-serving executives, Jason Friedman, blew the whistle on what he claimed were the football club’s practices. Friedman, a former vice president of sales and customer service, claimed to lawmakers that the team kept “two sets of books” — one of which was used to underreport ticket revenue to the NFL. The Commanders allegedly reported misleading data to the league, which requires its teams to pool ticket revenue so that it is shared among the other clubs. Ticket revenue is shared among all 32 NFL teams, with 40% of it deposited in a visiting team fund. Such money is among the pillars of the league’s revenue-sharing commitment. The Washington team has denied the allegations. “The team categorically denies any suggestion of financial impropriety of any kind at any time,” the Commanders said in a statement. “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.” The team said it was cooperating fully with the House committee’s investigation. In addressing allegations of misreporting ticket revenues, the team said there “has been absolutely no withholding of ticket revenue at any time by the Commanders” and that any person “who offered testimony suggesting a withholding of revenue has committed perjury, plain and simple” — i.e., Friedman. Friedman’s attorneys accused the team of “defaming” their client. The Commanders and team owner Snyder have been engulfed in scandal over the past few years. Earlier this year, the NFL hired former Securities and Exchange Commission chair Mary Jo White to investigate an allegation that Snyder sexually harassed a team employee more than a decade ago. Former Washington employee Tiffani Johnston told Congress that Snyder groped her thigh at a team dinner and pushed her toward his limousine with his hand on her lower back. Johnston worked for the team in the 2000s as a cheerleader and marketing manager. Snyder denied Johnston’s allegations, calling them “outright lies.” At least five other women have also made similar allegations against Snyder.

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