The Washington Commanders have been in the news for a variety of bad reasons this year, including numerous allegations of sexual harassment and financial improprieties that has resulted in multiple investigations from the NFL and Congress into the franchise’s operations.
At last month’s owners meeting, Colts owner Jim Irsay became the first to go on record as saying there’s “merit” to voting Dan Snyder out of the NFL and forcing him to sell the team, and on Wednesday, Snyder made the first move towards potentially selling the team before getting voted out in disgrace by hiring a bank to facilitate that process. On Wednesday evening, we learned one reason why Snyder was making that move now, as ESPN’s Don Van Natta reported that the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Eastern District of Virginia has opened a criminal investigation into the organization’s finances, stemming from testimony made to Congress by a former employee.
The sources said prosecutors are focused on several areas, and that the inquiry was triggered by a letter the House Committee on Oversight and Reform sent to the Federal Trade Commission and several attorneys general in April that alleged deceptive business practices. Attorneys general in Virginia and Washington, D.C., also are investigating allegations of financial impropriety.
In that testimony, it was revealed that the Commanders had kept two sets of financial books, one they sent to the NFL that hid shareable revenue from other teams, and another with the real figures that helped them keep more money and stay out of the revenue-sharing pool. They did so by shifting revenue from NFL games into other areas by categorizing it under revenue brought in from non-NFL events. It was also disclosed in the testimony that the team withheld millions from season-ticket holders in the form of unreturned security deposits.
It certainly doesn’t seem like a coincidence that Snyder began the formal process for possibly selling the team the same day a criminal investigation was launched, and it seems as though Snyder’s days are numbered as an NFL owner — but that may not get him away from legal ramifications of his alleged questionable business practices and fostering a hostile workplace.