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Washington Commanders Accused of Hiding $5 Million

Sports

Washington Commanders | Image by Mitchell Leff / Getty Images

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The Washington Commanders continue to find themselves in hot water as various government agencies investigate reports of sexual harassment allegations against the team. On April 12, the United States House Oversight and Reform Committee shared information with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that indicates the team may have used possibly illegal practices to hide funds collected through ticket sales from the NFL.

The bombshell accusation claims the team ran two sets of accounting books to hide as much as $5 million from the NFL over at least a decade.

The allegation stems from Committee interviews of former executive Jason Friedman, the vice president of sales and customer service until 2020.

Friedman provided the Committee with emails, memos, and first-hand accounts of a pattern of accounting practices allegedly designed to cheat season-ticket holders and the NFL out of funds.

According to the report sent to the FTC, the Washington Commanders kept two sets of books. One contained actual financial transactions, while the other failed to disclose money that should have been refunded to season-ticket holders who made security deposits on long-term seats.

Friedman said team executives instructed him to withhold certain funds, called “juice,” in memos.

“Go identify security deposits that are on dormant accounts where, in my estimation, the likelihood of the customer coming forward and asking for their deposit back is as close to zero as possible,” Friedman said, summarizing what he was allegedly told to do. “Then return the security deposit in the system and convert the credit that would then be on the customer’s account into juice.”

“The money would then be allocated to a similar license fee, handling fee, interest fee. It would get converted into something where, A, we didn’t have to share it with the league, and B, there was no outstanding obligation related to it. Meaning we didn’t have to issue out a ticket to a customer related to that line item,” Friedman explained.

Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform Carolyn Maloney commented on Friedman’s claims in a statement after the Committee’s letter was sent to the FTC.

“This new information on potential financial misconduct suggests that the rot under Dan Snyder’s leadership is much deeper than imagined. It further reinforces the concern that this organization has been allowed to operate with impunity for far too long,” she said.

Chairwoman Maloney continued, “This new information suggests that in addition to fostering a hostile workplace culture, Mr. Snyder also may have cheated the team’s fans and the NFL. While the focus of our investigation remains the Commanders’ toxic work environment, I hope the FTC will review this troubling financial conduct and determine whether further action is necessary. We must have accountability.”

The Committee’s investigations into financial conduct were not related to the ongoing investigations into workplace misconduct. Those investigations stem from allegations by former cheerleaders and executives in 2020 that described a pervasive culture of harassment and abuse within the organization.

Washington publicly made a $1.6 million settlement to a former cheerleader regarding the abuse allegations in 2009. In 2021, the Commanders were fined $10 million by the NFL following an in-depth investigation of the matter. Shortly afterward, the team settled with five former cheerleaders who were videotaped without permission for an internal video described as “lewd.”

The FTC will be responsible for investigating the new allegations relating to the mismanagement of the Washington Commanders football team under Dan Snyder’s leadership. Snyder has owned the team since 1999.

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