Feb 12, 2023
In December, the House Oversight and Reform Committee released a final report from their investigation into allegations of sexual assault committed by Washington Commanders team owner Dan Snyder. In this episode, you will hear the testimony and discover what the NFL did - or didn’t do - to punish the people who sexually harassed their employees. You will also learn that in the process of researching this episode, the Congressional Dish team discovered that the hearings related to this investigation, among others, have recently vanished from the committee archives, raising questions about how that happened and what needs to be done to prevent our sources from being disappeared.
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“To Native American groups, Redskins name is ‘worst offender.’ Now they hope for more changes.” Adam Kilgore and Roman Stubbs. Jul 9, 2020. The Washington Post.
“‘Bethesda man to make bid for Redskins’: How Daniel Snyder became an NFL owner.” Scott Allen. May 24, 2019. The Washington Post.
“Read the Full Report on the Washington Commanders” Dec 8, 2022. The New York Times.
“The NFL’s investigation was just like Daniel Snyder’s workplace culture: Rotten.” Sally Jenkins. Jul 1, 2021. The Washington Post.
“NFL announces outcome of Washington Football Team workplace review.” Jul 1, 2021. NFL.
“Daniel Snyder pledged support for the NFL’s investigation. His actions tell a different story.” Will Hobson and Liz Clarke. Dec 14, 2021. The Washington Post.
“NFL fines Washington Football Team $10 million; Tanya Snyder to run operations for now.” Will Hobson et al. Jul 2, 2021. The Washington Post.
“Tanya Snyder, wife of owner Daniel Snyder, named co-CEO of Washington Football Team.” Nicki Jhabvala and Mark Maske. Jun 29, 2021. The Washington Post.
“Washington Football Team settled sexual misconduct claim against Daniel Snyder for $1.6 million.” Will Hobson et al. Dec 22, 2020. The Washington Post.
“Lewd cheerleader videos, sexist rules: Ex-employees decry Washington’s NFL team workplace.” Will Hobson et al. Aug 26, 2020. The Washington Post.
“From Dream Job to Nightmare.” Will Hobson and Liz Clarke. Jul 16, 2020. The Washington Post.
“How did Daniel Snyder make his money? Net worth & more to know about Commanders owner's businesses.” Edward Sutelan. Nov 14, 2022. The Sporting News.
“Average Net Worth by Age: How Do You Compare?” Lauren Schwahn. Dec 2, 2022. Nerd Wallet.
“Barstool’s Dave Portnoy physically carried out of Super Bowl 53 (Video).” Danny Small. Feb 4, 2019. Elite Sports NY.
“Dan Snyder Reportedly Holding Out for $7B Bid for Commanders amid Sale Rumors.” Scott Polacek. Feb 8, 2023. Bleacher Report.
“Is Dan Snyder selling the Commanders? What to know as Washington owner explores 'potential transactions.'” Joe Rivera. Nov 2, 2022. The Sporting News.
“List of NFL franchise owners.” Wikipedia.
“Congress wants WWE's info on steroids, doping.” Associated Press. Jul 28, 2007. MSNBC via the Wayback Machine.
“Steroid Use in Baseball: Players.” House Government Reform and Oversight Committee (109th Congress). March 17, 2005. C-SPAN.
“National Football League: Summary.” Open Secrets.
“NFL reportedly generated record-setting $11 billion in national revenue last season.” Matt Johnson. Jul 15, 2022. Sportsnaut.
“The Democrats Lost the House by Just 6,675 Votes. What Went Wrong?” Walter Shapiro. Feb 9, 2023. The New Republic.
June 22, 2022
House Oversight and Reform Committee
Rodger Goodell:, Commissioner, National Football League
3:05 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): We also invited Daniel Snyder to testify today, but rather than show up and take responsibility for his actions, he chose to skip town. Apparently Mr. Snyder is in France, where he has docked his luxury yacht near a resort town.
3:45 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): According to top executives, he fired women, but not men, who engaged in relationships with other employees while defending male executives accused of sexual harassment. And he kept employees from speaking out through a culture of fear. As one longtime employee described Mr. Snyder's tactics: "If you don't obey, intimidate. If you still don't obey, terminate." Finally, the employee added, "If that didn't work, buy them off." The Committee has also uncovered evidence that Mr. Snyder conducted a shadow investigation to target his accusers, pin the blame on others, and influence the NFL's own internal review. He filed phony lawsuits to collect private phone records, emails, and text messages.
7:10 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): Our first bill, the Accountability for Workplace Misconduct Act, will require employers to conduct thorough investigations and share the outcome with victims, and it will prohibit employers from using Non-disclosure Agreements to conceal workplace misconduct -- one of Dan Snyder's favorite tactics. Our second bill is the Professional Images Protection Act. Our investigation confirmed that the Commanders secretly created lewd videos of cheerleaders for the private enjoyment of Dan Snyder. That is despicable and our bill will create notice and consent requirements for employers who use their employees' professional images.
23:10 Rodger Goodell: Hi I'm Roger Goodell commissioner of the National Football League and I'm here today to discuss the NFL's efforts to promote safe and respectful workplaces, including at the Washington Commanders.
23:25 Rodger Goodell: The Commanders are one of 32 NFL clubs, each of which is managed by its ownership and executives and have their own workplaces and policies. Two years ago, the Commanders asked me to recommend independent counsel to address workplace issues and recommend changes to improve the workplace culture. We identified several candidates and the club selected Beth Wilkinson, a distinguished former Federal Prosecutor. Approximately six weeks later, the club asked my office to assume oversight of the Wilkinson firm's work. The Wilkinson firm conducted a comprehensive review of the workplace at the club, interviewing more than 150 witnesses. As a result, we gained a clearer understanding of what the workplace had been at the Commanders, how it had begun to change, and what further steps were needed to support our ultimate goal of transforming that workplace to one that is safe and productive for all of its employees.
25:05 Rodger Goodell: It is clear to me that the workplace in Washington was unprofessional and unacceptable in numerous respects: bullying, widespread disrespect toward colleagues, use of demeaning language, public embarrassment and harassment. Moreover, for a prolonged period of time, the Commanders had a woefully deficient HR function, particularly with respect to reporting practices and record keeping. As a result, we imposed unprecedented discipline on the club, monetary penalties of well over $10 million, and requirements that the club implement a series of recommendations and allow an outside firm to conduct regular reviews of their workplace. In addition, for the past year, Daniel Snyder has not attended league or committee meetings, and to the best of my knowledge has not been involved in day to day operations at the Commanders. The cheerleader program has been entirely revamped and it's now a co-ed dance team under new leadership. And the most recent independent workplace report, which we have shared with the Committee, confirms that an entirely new, highly skilled and diverse management team is in place, and that there has been, "substantial transformation of the team's culture, leadership and human resources practices."
26:35 Rodger Goodell: We did not receive a written report of Miss Wilkinson's findings for compelling reasons that continue to this day. A critical element of any workplace review is broad participation by both current and former employees. Encouraging employees to come forward and share their experiences, which were frequently painful and emotional, was essential to identifying both the organization's failures and how to fix them. To encourage this participation, Ms. Wilkinson promised confidentiality to any current or former employee. For this reason, shortly after we assumed oversight of Miss Wilkinson's work, we determined that a comprehensive oral briefing was best to allow us to receive the information necessary both to evaluate the workplace as it was, and to ensure that the team put in place the policies and processes to reform that workplace, all while preserving the confidentiality of those who participated in the investigation.
28:35 Rodger Goodell: When the committee has asked questions or requested documents which could violate witness privacy, we have asserted privilege. We will continue to do so to safeguard our commitment.
28:45 Rodger Goodell:: Earlier this year, the committee heard testimony from several former employees that included new and direct allegations against Mr. Snyder. We properly engaged former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White to investigate those allegations. Because those new allegations were brought to the committee in a public setting, we will share the results of that investigation when it's completed and will take additional disciplinary action if warranted.
29:50 Rodger Goodell: Finally, I want to address the Committee's review of Non-disclosure Agreements. Our policies do not allow a club to use an NDA to bar someone from participating in a league investigation, and nobody who wished to speak to the Wilkinson firm was prevented from doing so by an NDA.
36:45 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): Mr. Snyder has not been held accountable. His refusal to testify sends a clear message that he is more concerned about protecting himself than coming clean with the American people. If the NFL is unwilling or unable to hold Mr. Snyder accountable, then I am prepared to do so. That is why I am announcing now my intent to issue a subpoena for the testimony of Mr. Snyder for a deposition next week. The committee will not be deterred in its investigation to uncover the truth of workplace misconduct at the Washington Commaders.
38:20 Rodger Goodell: While I have the microphone I'd also like to say, respectfully, that Dan Snyder has been held accountable. As I mentioned in the opening, he faced unprecedented discipline, including financial fines, being removed and away from the team at his request for a period of time up to the year now already, and secondly, and more importantly, transformation of that organization that is going on in the last year, which is really important.
42:25 Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC): This committee has no jurisdiction over private entities. Our jurisdiction is on government entities.
1:10:40 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): Now, sir, you had mentioned that the reason for the press release as opposed to a detailed finding, as you had in the other cases was because of privacy concerns. Isn't that right? Rodger Goodell: That was one of the issues. Yes. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): However, I have this 148 Page Miami Dolphins harassment report that you did where you have redacted the names of various individuals out of privacy concerns. And so it is possible to release a detailed report and at the same time protect people's privacy, yet you chose not to do so in this particular case with the Commanders.
Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI): Study after study shows there is not systemic racism in our police departments. There is a narrative out there, for example, who to this day mislead the public as to what happened in Ferguson. The Black Lives Matter movement fanned the flames out there even though Barack Obama's own Justice Department found that shooting was justified and you have kind of piled on with the narrative that we have a fundamental problem.
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA): So non disclosure agreements by each of your various teams are not being used. Is that what you're saying? Rodger Goodell: No, I'm not saying that at all. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): The gentlelady's time has expired. The gentleman may answer her question. Rodger Goodell: I'm not saying that. State by state...our teams operate in different states that have different laws. So the federal legislation is something that we're willing to work with the Committee on it.
February 3, 2022 House Oversight and Reform Committee
Emily Applegate, Former Marketing Coordinator, Washington Commanders
Brad Baker, Former Manager and Producer of Video, Washington Commanders
Melanie Coburn, Former Director of Marketing, Cheerleaders, Washington Commanders
Rachel Engelson, Former Director of Marketing and Client Relations, Washington Commanders
Tiffani Johnston, Former Manager of Marketing, Washington Commanders
Ana Nunez, Former Coordinator of Business Development, Washington Commanders
9:45 Rep. James Comer (R-KY): Instead of adhering to our committee's mission to root out waste, fraud, and abuse and mismanagement in the federal government, Democrats instead are holding a roundtable about the work culture in one single private organization.
10:00 Rep. James Comer (R-KY): Make no mistake, no one should face harassment at work and bad actors must be held accountable. But it's unclear why examining harassment that took place a decade ago in one private workplace warrants oversight from this committee. This issue is best handled by human resources and the courts, not Congress.
10:25 Rep. James Comer (R-KY): Further, because of the bravery of the women testifying before us today, the culture of the franchise has completely turned around. And I want to thank the ladies for being here today. After the NFL investigation into the football team last year, Commissioner Roger Goodell levied the highest fine on an owner in the history of the sport, and suspended the owner from team's operations indefinitely. In addition, the commissioner made a series of recommendations to the team to improve its culture. This week, an independent audit confirmed those recommendations are working. Madam Chair, I'd like to submit the audit for the record.
11:30 Rep. James Comer (R-KY): Because of the Commissioner's leadership, bad actors have been held accountable and the culture at the football team has improved. So why are Democrats utilizing committee resources today to examine an issue that is on the path to resolution and is outside this committee's jurisdiction?
18:15 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): Our first participant is Melanie Coburn who was a cheerleader for the Washington Football Team from 1997 to 2001 and was the director of Marketing and Marketing Coordinator from 2001 to 2011.
18:30 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): Then we will hear from Tiffany Johnston, who was a cheerleader for the Washington football team from 2007 to 2008, and a Marketing Manager and Marketing and Events Coordinator for Club Level Tickets from 2002 to 2008.
18:50 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): Next we will hear from Brad Baker, who was a Producer at the Washington football team from 2007 to 2008 and a Video Production Manager from 2008 to 2009.
19:05 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): Next we will hear from Ana Nunez, who was a Coordinator of Business Development and Client Service and an Account Executive at the Washington football team from 2015 to 2019.
19:20 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): Next, we will hear from Rachel Engelson, who started as an intern for the Washington football team in 2010 and then became a Customer Service Representative, a Manager of Premium Client Services, the Director of Marketing and Client Relations, and the Director of Client Services from 2011 to 2019.
19:40 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): Finally, we will hear from Emily Applegate who was a Marketing Coordinator, Premium Client Services Coordinator, and Ticket Sales Representative at the Washington Football Team from 2014 to 2015.
21:00 Melanie Coburn: At cheerleader auditions one year, Dan Snyder ordered the director of the squad to parade the ladies onto the field while he and his friends gawked from a suite through binoculars. The women were directed to turn around slowly, as if they were cattle being examined for sale. One of the women cried on the sidelines because she didn't understand what was happening.
21:30 Melanie Coburn: Over the years, it became clear that Dan Snyder and his male executives were far too interested in the cheerleaders. Eventually, Dan himself had the final say of who made the team and who got months in the calendar. Unbelievably, he requested binders of photographs for auditions and the calendar so that he could choose who to cut based on looks, not talent. One year he cut 10 veterans who otherwise would have made the team based on their skill and experience, evidently because they weren't the prettiest in his opinion. It was known as the Tyson's massacre.
22:10 Melanie Coburn: During calendar production one year, a male Executive took unedited prints off the graphic designer's desk despite my warnings to protect them. One of these compromising full size photos was one of the team's most loyal employees, and my dear friend. She's sitting next to me today. I'm still haunted by this. And at the time, there was no HR department or any reporting mechanism for this abusive behavior.
23:05 Melanie Coburn: I felt compelled to come forward publicly when I read the second shocking [Washington] Post article that revealed two lewd videos of the cheerleaders that were secretly created. I was physically ill when I read that piece. "The Good Bits" videos produced at the behest of Dan Snyder were secretly made from footage taken at our calendar shoots. We trusted the production team to capture footage and keep it safe. Little did we know they were zooming in on private parts and keeping cameras rolling during costume changes. I've cried with the women in these videos as they explain the horror of seeing themselves in what is essentially a soft porn video soundtracked to Dan Snyder's favorite bands. These women remain traumatized.
24:35 Melanie Coburn: Dan Snyder rules by fear. We've seen Dan's vindictive wrath for years, such as when he nearly bankrupted the Washington City Paper for an unflattering article. He sent private investigators to the homes of a dozen former cheerleaders last year and I got calls from these terrified women who didn't understand why PIs were showing up on their doorsteps. He offered hush money to a group of us in exchange for our silence last February, but we declined. This was offensive, and certainly felt like intimidation and witness tampering to us.
26:10 Tiffani Johnston: Hi, my name is Tiffani Johnston. I appreciate you all for taking the time to hear about the constant workplace harassment that occurred at the Washington Football Team for over two decades. I personally experienced it multiple times during my eight year tenure as both a cheerleader and a marketing manager.
26:50 Ana Nunez: Hi, my name is Ana Nunez and I worked in sales for the Washington football team for almost four years.
28:20 Tiffani Johnston: I learned on one specific occasion that when I was asked by my boss to attend a networking event, and oh to dress cute, it was actually an orchestration by him and Dan Snyder to put me in a compromising sexual situation. I learned that placing me strategically by the owner at a work dinner after this networking event was not for me to discuss business, but to allow him, Dan Snyder, to place his hand on my thigh under the table. I learned how to discreetly remove a man's unwanted hand from my thigh at a crowded dinner table at a busy restaurant to avoid a scene. I learned that job survival meant I should continue my conversation with another coworker, rather than call out Dan Snyder right then in the moment. I also learned later that evening how to awkwardly laugh when Dan Snyder aggressively pushed me towards his limo with his hand on my lower back, encouraging me to ride with him to my car. I learned how to continue to say no, even though a situation was getting more awkward, uncomfortable and physical. I learned that the only reason Dan Snyder removed his hand from my back and stop pushing me towards his limo was because his attorney intervened and said "Dan, Dan, this is a bad idea. A very bad idea, Dan." I learned that I should remove myself from Dan's grip while his attorney was distracting him. I also learned at that moment during an unspoken conversation between my boss and I that my boss was not there to look out for me. He was there to listen to any directive his boss, Dan Snyder, had given to him, at my cost. The next day I learned, when I told a senior coworker about Dan Snyder's sexual advance, that I should "not repeat this story to anyone outside this office door." That was when I also learned there was no one to go to about Dan Snyder's advance, no path to record the incident. So I learned to move on.
30:15 Tiffani Johnston: In the last couple of years, I learned that Dan Snyder, via Senior Vice President, demanded my unedited, enlarged lingerie calendar photo be sent to his office. I learned that this demand was made urgently because they knew that the graphic artists was getting ready to Photoshop my personal areas before the edited proof went before all of the senior VPs and Dan Snyder for approval.
31:40 Brad Baker: My name is Brad Baker and I worked for the Washington Football Team from 2007 to 2009 in the Video Production Department.
32:40 Brad Baker: In the early summer of 2008, a normal production meeting with the video department was wrapping up when Larry Michael, then Executive Producer of Media and one of Snyder's top lieutenants, asked me and two other male producers to stay behind and shut the door. The female members of the department were dismissed. Larry Michael told us that the owner had a special project for us and needed us to edit together a video of the good bits from our cheerleader calendar video shoot. It wasn't hard to put two and two together. Larry Michael, one of Snyder's top confidants, has tasked us with producing a video for Schneider of sexually suggestive footage of cheerleaders, obviously unbeknownst to any of the women involved. One of the senior producers said he'd take care of it and later on, while passing through the editing suite, I saw several images on both the editing monitor and the monitor of our tape deck that featured the cheerleaders posing for their photoshoot, but it was like outtakes, and their breasts and pubic areas were exposed. It became crystal clear that my worst suspicions were true. The video department had been told to edit together lewd footage of the cheerleaders at the request of Dan Snyder.
34:30 Brad Baker: The NFL has refused to release the report of the Wilkinson investigation, even though myself and over 100 other employees were asked by the League to speak to the Wilkinson firm. We all participated because we thought the NFL wanted to know the truth. We believe that the toxic workplace culture and the serious harm it caused would finally become public and that the investigation would end with some kind of report. I mean, they were able to release a report that was 243 pages long...243 pages long...on the PSIs of footballs, the pounds per square inch of footballs. Surely, surely, women being sexually harassed and lewd outtakes videos of female employees created without their consent could muster up some kind of written report right
43:40 Rachel Engelson: I was only 24 and the man who sexually harassed me was old enough to be my father. And he also was considered the voice of the team in the public sphere. So to me, the power that he held in his position and his close personal relationship with Daniel Snyder was enough for me to reconsider anything. And at the time, I didn't know and realize that 55% of victims experienced retaliation after speaking up or making a claim. I still decided to tell my boss about my harasser's public comments about my appearance, his unwanted kisses on the cheek, and emails about special gifts he expected from me. When I told my boss, we agreed that nothing would happen if I reported it to the person who was supposedly running HR at that point. And so my boss called my harasser on the phone. Mind you, we were in two different locations. I was in Maryland and he was in Virginia, so this had to be done via phone call. I was in the room when my boss called him to tell him to leave me alone. And it's a memory I'll never forget, because I distinctly remember hearing my harasser yell through the phone, "what the fuck is she thinking?" and I just kind of muted everything after that. So fearing further harassment and retaliation, I took to hiding from him at public events. I strategically would place myself between colleagues so he couldn't get near me. And I just felt humiliated to have to hide in plain sight in front of all of my colleagues, my clients, and I was just so frustrated that I had to avoid company functions for fear that I would experience sexual harassment again. And most of all, it made me feel worthless. All the hard work I put into my work and the team and I was reduced to my appearance and not my value as an employee. The second time I decided to report harassment was with the arrival of a new executive team, similar to Ana, that was specifically hired to help change the business. I told them about the public comments about my appearance, the unwanted kisses on the cheek, the email, as well as the time at training camp, I was sexually assaulted by the same man that I had previously reported. Those executives were appalled at my treatment and had good intentions to affect change, but they were all fired within six months of reporting this. And after they were fired, and this was reportedly because the old guard at the Washington football team did not want change, I just felt like I had zero protection. I didn't want to go back to avoiding people, clients, events, and even my own job, to keep away from my harasser. So I resigned from my position without another job lined up so I wouldn't have to deal with this.
48:35 Emily Applegate: My name is Emily Applegate. I began working for the Washington Football Team exactly eight years ago as of tomorrow. While my time with the team was short, my experiences there have altered the structure of my entire life.
49:10 Emily Applegate: On a daily basis, I was sexually harassed by my direct boss, the Chief Marketing Officer of the team. Every day, I was forced into uncomfortable conversations about my body and about my appearance. I was told to wear tight outfits to events, so clients had something to look at. I was asked invasive questions about my dating life, specifically if I was interested in older men, because my boss was significantly older than me. I was told I wasn't allowed to wear flat shoes because he liked the way my body looked better when I was in high heels. My photograph was taken without my permission and passed to other executives throughout the team by my boss.
50:20 Emily Applegate: To address the most common question that I get, "why didn't you report to Human Resources?" I didn't report to Human Resources because Dan Snyder created a culture where this behavior was accepted and encouraged.
53:35 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): July 1, 2021, the NFL issued a press release announcing the outcome of its investigation into the Washington football team stating and I quote, "none of the managers or executives identified as having engaged in this conduct is still employed at the club."
54:10 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY):
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY):
Is the NFL's statement that wrongdoers have been removed from the Washington Football Team accurate? Tiffani Johnston: Absolutely not. It all started from the top with Dan Snyder, every day, on every single issue.
55:05 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): Miss Johnston, I received a letter dated today from Jason Friedman, a former Vice President who worked for the Washington football team for over 20 years, and here is the letter. He was apparently with you the night that Dan Snyder personally harassed you. And here's what he said. He has never told his story publicly before and I want to quote now from his letter. He says "I witnessed Dan Snyder grab the arm of my coworker, Tiffany Johnston, and attempt to pull her into his limousine. This took place over a dinner in Washington DC. I was shocked. Thankfully, Tiffany was able to quickly pull away."
57:35 Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC): The proper venue to explore these types of claims is in the courtroom, not before this committee. To my knowledge, there's no pending litigation regarding the events we've heard discussed today, nor does this committee have legislative jurisdiction over this issue. It concerns me that this committee is choosing to spend its limited time having this discussion on the NFL and second guessing decisions when there are multiple Biden-caused catastrophes that desperately need our attention and oversight. And the witnesses here have begged for us to do something and nothing is going to happen as a result of this committee. That's cruel to these people.
1:06:50 Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC): What do you want us to do? What should Congress do? I can't legislate bad behavior to stop it. Just quickly, what would you do.
1:09:05 Emily Applegate: Thank you for asking this question, actually, because I think it's very important due to the fact that multiple members of the committee has now said that this is not the appropriate venue for us to be sharing the story and that we shouldn't be in the courtroom, things like that. You guys have the opportunity to take this issue on, pass legislation that would help other employees throughout the United States be able to report so they have that opportunity to be in the courtroom, and not only the opportunity to be in the courtroom, but then also to find some justice, because I think we can all agree that a lot of people go through the criminal justice system, and they never see any type of justice when it comes to sexual harassment or sexual assault. So until those two things are taken more seriously by Congress, then nothing is going to happen. But that's why we're here today to ask you to do your job and pass those legislation laws.
1:09:55 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): To my dear colleagues on the other side, I just want to point out that we legislate the rules, regulations, and laws that govern workplace safety, as well as non disclosure agreement laws and so forth.
1:15:05 Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-NM): Mr. Chair, this hearing is a farce. And we should be looking at inflation, the economy, Afghanistan, the border crisis and so many other issues that are important to our nation and to our constituents. Instead, we are spending time looking at a single business, investigating it for things that happened a decade ago. And let me restate again the owners of the team fired those responsible. In fact, the owners paid the largest fine ever imposed by the NFL and was suspended indefinitely from operations. This roundtable is ridiculous and it is an abuse of power.
1:35:50 Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL): You might be aware that part of the reason that the NFL is such a profitable business is that Congress approved legislation in 1961 that allowed an antitrust exemption where professional football teams could pull together when negotiating radio and television contracts. They also receive lucrative federal tax exemptions and taxpayer dollars in the hundreds of millions to build football stadiums that make them billions. Do you believe Congress should be in the business of protecting an organization that puts the interests of billionaire owners above hundreds of women who experienced harassment and abuse? And do you think that those benefits, that we should consider revoking them if they do not make changes to ensure that you have protections when it comes to human resources, sexual assault accountability, making sure that there is an equitable and safe workplace for their employees?
1:41:35 Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA): Miss Coburn in your op ed, you mentioned that after the secret "good bits" videos hit the news that you and 40 or so other cheerleader alumni came together and some of you were able to mediate a settlement. Were those who settled, were they barred from going to court because of a forced arbitration agreement? Do you know? Melanie Coburn: Yes, many of when those videos were uncovered, that's when I came out publicly. I had the strength and courage to organize them. And yes, they all, they they got together and there was a, you know, mediation and there was a settlement and along with that settlement, they were forced to sign NDAs.
1:45:10 Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA): Congress can do a lot about this. Next week, all of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who aren't here now could vote for the bill by Cheri Bustos that is going to require that no NDAs can be forced upon employees for sexual harassment or sexual assault. That would go a long way. We could also investigate the tax exempt status of the National Football League. We gave them that tax exempt status. Evidently, there was $8 billion received last year that was then divided up among the various teams to the tune of about $250 million a team.
1:50:10 Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL): We have a responsibility here of regulating, specifically, the United States economy when it comes to interstate commerce, to regulating our borders, to actually making sure we coin sound money, that we appropriate for the necessary functions of government. But one of the things that the Constitution of these United States actually precludes us from doing is interfering directly in the affairs of individual businesses, no matter how abhorrent they may be. Now, if there's criminality involved, then that is where the justice system, specifically in this case the civil system, takes those matters.
December 18, 2022
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