NFL commanders deny financial impropriety in a letter to the FTC

The NFL’s Washington Commanders dismissed multiple allegations of financial impropriety in a letter sent to the Federal Trade Commission on Monday.

The 105-page letter, which includes testimonies, emails and other documents, came in response to the House Oversight and Reform Committee asking the FTC to investigate the team’s business practices.

The committee told the FTC last week it found evidence of deceptive business practices spanning more than a decade, including withholding ticketing revenue from visiting teams and refundable deposits from fans. The NFL said it has hired Securities and Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary Jo White to “review the most serious matters raised by the committee.”

The letter, signed by Jordan W. Siev of the Reed Smith law firm, denies all of these allegations and targets the motives and character of former vice president of sales and customer service Jason Friedman, whose testimony against the team framed the committee’s recommendation. Arguing that no financial investigation was warranted, Siev said the committee never requested information about the allegations made, which commanders believe would clear them of any wrongdoing.

Dan Snyder
Allegations against the commanders include withholding ticket receipts from away teams and refundable deposits from fans.

“The committee has not requested a single document from the team; the committee has not invited a single representative of the team to address the truth of the matters contained in the committee’s letter; and the committee has not asked the team questions to respond in writing to its allegations or provided the team with any mechanism to clarify the truth of the allegations,” the letter said. “Had the committee posed any of these questions or requests to the team, the team could have — and could have — easily and completely refuted each allegation.”

Congress began investigating the team’s workplace misconduct after the league failed to release a report with the findings of an independent investigation into the matter, which resulted in a $10 million fine but no other discipline. The committee said the NFL and team have “taken steps to withhold important documents and information.”

In a statement sent to the Associated Press on April 4, a spokeswoman for Commanders said said there was “absolutely no withholding of ticket revenue at any time” and pointed to multi-party scrutiny, adding that “anyone who has made any statement suggesting a withholding of earnings has committed perjury, plain and simple.”

Attorney Lisa Banks, representing Friedman, said the team defamed her client, who she said “testified truthfully with evidence.”

Friedman testified before Congress that the team has two separate financial books: one with underreported ticketing revenue going to the NFL, and the full, complete picture. According to witnesses, owner Dan Snyder was aware of the numbers being shared with the league while also being privy to the actual dates.

In the team’s letter to the FTC, former finance director Paul Szczenski is quoted as saying, “I can say in no uncertain terms that I have never helped keep a ‘second set’ of books or seen anyone else keep them. The team also cites statements by former Chief Operating Officer Mitch Gershman and former General Counsel David Donovan, as well as emails and other documents, to refute the allegations cited by the Oversight Committee.” NFL commanders deny financial impropriety in a letter to the FTC


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