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What are the Washington Commanders being investigated for?

A congressional committee has written the Federal Trade Commission, saying they believe the NFL team Washington Commanders might have broken financial laws.

Gidget Alikpala
A congressional committee has written the Federal Trade Commission, saying they believe the NFL team Washington Commanders might have broken financial laws.
Jamie SquireGetty Images

The US House Oversight and Reform Committee has written the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) a 20-page letter, saying that they believe the Washington Commanders may have engaged “in a troubling, long-running, and potentially unlawful pattern of financial conduct.”

The victims of this questionable behavior include thousands of Commanders fans and the National Football League.

Unreturned deposits, underreported profits

The committee found that the Commanders may have kept up to $5 million in deposits that were meant to be returned to some 2,000 season-ticket holders, and that the organization may have actively prevented fans from getting these deposits back.

They also found evidence that the franchise hid ticket revenues that were due the NFL. A percentage of ticket sales is collected from league teams to form a pool for later distribution, as part of the NFL’s commitment to profit-sharing.

According to the testimony of a former employee, the Commanders had two sets of financial records- one with underreported earnings for submission to the NFL, the other with the real numbers, which team owner Dan Snyder was well aware of.

The letter said that a former employee had informed the committee that “it was known and/or rumored in the office that there was ‘moving around’ of money regarding tickets,” and that she had told an independent investigator contracted by the franchise about the practice in 2020.

The oversight committee is asking the FTC to take any steps needed to ensure that any misappropriated money is returned to the aggrieved parties, and that those who have engaged in any wrongdoing are held accountable for their actions.

Investigation into workplace misconduct expanded

The congressional committee uncovered the information as they were investigating allegations of workplace misconduct at the Washington Commanders organization.

The NFL had refused to release the findings of an independent investigation it had earlier launched into allegations by former employees that the workplace environment was toxic, citing incidents of sexual harassment and abuse.

The NFL had said they could not release their documents because the Commanders refused to give their consent for them to do so. Washington denied this, saying the organization has never prevented the league from obtaining non-privileged documents.

Congress heard testimony from former employees regarding workplace misconduct allegations, and sifted through evidence that included emails, documents, and statements from former employees.

After what they discovered earlier in the probe, they expanded the investigation to include the Commanders’ finances.


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