D.C. AG’s office sues Snyder, Commanders, NFL
Claims team, owner, league colluded to 'deceive' residents about investigation
Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine announced on Twitter Thursday afternoon that his office is suing the Washington Commanders team, owner Dan Snyder, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the National Football League, accusing the defendants of “colluding to deceive District residents … about an investigation into toxic workplace culture,” referring to the NFL’s 2021 probe into reports of alleged sexual harassment of female employees by team executives, including Snyder.
In a series of tweets, Racine said, “After public reporting revealed that sexual misconduct, harassment and misogyny ran rampant for decades at the team, the defendants promised D.C. residents that the league was going to fix this toxic culture, including by fully cooperating with an independent investigation. That was all a lie.”
The lawsuit was filed in the D.C. Superior Court and seeks injunctive, equitable and declaratory relief; restitution and damages; civil penalties; and attorneys’ fees.
Preceding Thursday’s announcement, the Ashburn-based Commanders team made a statement in which a spokesperson said, “The Commanders have fully cooperated with the [D.C.] AG’s investigation for nearly a year. As recently as Monday, a lawyer for the team met with the AG, who did not suggest at that time that he intended to take any action and, in fact, revealed fundamental misunderstandings of the underlying facts. It is unfortunate that, in his final days in office, Mr. Racine appears more interested in making splashy headlines based on offbeat legal theories, rather than doing the hard work of making the streets safe for our citizens, including bringing to justice the people who shot one of our players.”
Washington Commanders running back Brian Robinson was injured in a shooting Aug. 28 in northeast Washington. Two teen suspects have been arrested, according to The Washington Post, and police have said they are searching for a third suspect. After the Commanders’ statement Wednesday, Robinson’s agent, Ryan Williams of Athletes First, tweeted, “Up until an hour ago, the Commanders handled the Brian Robinson situation with so much care, sincerity and class. And I was so grateful for all of it. Although I know that there are some great humans in that building, whoever is hiding behind this statement is not one of them.”
In his statement, Racine, who did not seek reelection this year, said that he is not filing suit against the team or Snyder regarding workplace harassment or misconduct “because these actions largely took place outside the District.” The Commanders’ front office is in Ashburn and the team’s stadium is in Maryland, but Racine said in his statement that D.C. residents represent “the heart of the Commanders’ fanbase” and that the lawsuit is meant to “stand up for D.C. residents who were lied to and deceived.”
The D.C. lawsuit is part of a flurry of activity surrounding Snyder, who may sell the team and hired Bank of America Securities “to consider potential transactions” earlier this month. Among the potential buyers is Amazon.com Inc. Executive Chairman Jeff Bezos, who reportedly may team up with rapper and music mogul Jay-Z and actor Matthew McConaughey. Other people mentioned as having an interest in buying the Commanders are Entertainment Studios Inc. Chairman and CEO Byron Allen, who also tried to buy the Broncos; Tesla and SpaceX head Elon Musk, who took over Twitter recently for $44 billion; Washington Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis and Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein, who also are bidding on the Washington Nationals baseball team; and former Broncos bidders Behdad Eghbali and Jose E. Feliciano, according to the Post report.
Meanwhile, the NFL, the U.S. Congress and Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares are also investigating the Commanders, as well as the U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District of Virginia, which has opened a criminal probe into alleged financial improprieties by the team. In 2021, the NFL fined the team $10 million, and Snyder ceded day-to-day operations to his wife, Tanya Snyder, who took over as co-CEO.