DC attorney general to release more findings about Commanders

DC attorney general to release more findings about Commanders

How

While announcing a consumer protection lawsuit against the Washington Commanders, team owner Daniel Snyder, the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell, DC Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D) said Thursday that the suit is only the first item on his agenda.

Next week, Racine’s office plans to disclose more about its findings related to alleged financial improprieties by the Commanders. The team repeatedly has denied committing any financial malfeasance.

“We are going to give Mr. Snyder and his team an opportunity to pay back exactly what we found they owe DC residents,” Racine said. “But that’s not going to be a long opportunity, and we’ll prepare a legal document that will be filed in court next week if a deal is not reached.”

Some former season ticket holders have recently received letters from the team regarding refundable deposits, and Racine said that is “of course” connected to his office’s investigation.

“We haven’t accepted security deposits in nearly a decade, and we began returning deposits to ticket holders as early as late 2004,” a team spokesperson said. “We sent a letter a few weeks ago as part of the most recent outreach to return deposits to ticket holders.”

Racine’s office had been investigating the Commanders and Snyder after allegations of workplace misconduct and sexual harassment, as well as for claims made by one former employee of financial irregularities.

“We investigated the team not only in regards to these outrageous and illegal acts against women and [against] their employees, but we also … had a referral made to us from Congress and, acting responsibly, we dug into that,” Racine said.

DC attorney general sues Daniel Snyder, Commanders, NFL

The Commanders and Snyder also are being investigated by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, the NFL and the office of Jason S. Miyares (R), Virginia’s attorney general. Investigators for the US attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia also have interviewed witnesses about allegations of financial improprieties involving the team, according to multiple people familiar with the situation.

Jason Friedman, a former vice president of sales and customer service for the team, told the House Committee this year that the Commanders engaged in a long-running practice of withholding refundable deposits from season ticket holders and hiding money that was supposed to be shared among other NFL owners.

In recent weeks, some former season ticket holders have shared letters received from the Commanders saying the team tried to contact them once before to no avail and is reaching out again to return the deposit. The letters say state law “requires the team to report and/or remit the funds” in the season ticket holder’s account if they are not claimed.

One former season ticket holder, Christopher Barnett, told The Post he had tickets for two seats over a five-year term in the 1990s. He didn’t renew after the term expired, and he does not recall hearing from the team about a deposit refund before receiving a letter in October.

“It’s not surprising that when the sheriff is on your heels, conduct begins to comport itself to the law,” Racine said, adding the team “should hurry up.”

Racine announced the consumer protection lawsuit less than two months before he is scheduled to leave office. He said Thursday he is “quite confident” the case will move forward under the watch of Attorney General-elect Brian Schwalb.

“As soon as Brian clears ethics and ceases his employment at the law firm he’s at, he will get all the information that he wants about any case that we have,” Racine said.

Svrluga: The Commanders’ biggest threat, as always, is coming from inside the house

The lawsuit, filed in the civil division of DC Superior Court, alleges the Commanders and the NFL violated the district’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act with “public misrepresentations, omissions, and ambiguities of material fact.”

Racine’s office said it is seeking financial penalties under the CPPA for every misstatement made by the Commanders, Snyder, the NFL and Goodell to District residents dating from July 2020. It also is seeking a court order to force the NFL to release the findings of a previous investigation of the team’s workplace conducted by attorney Beth Wilkinson.

DC’s attorney general, unlike attorneys general of the 50 states, cannot prosecute adult crimes and serious misdemeanors. The US attorney’s office handles such cases.

“Tea [team] can seek to have our case dismissed,” Racine said. “We will issue subpoenas. We will seek testimony under oath. Depositions. I promise you. Let me just give you a hunch: The depositions are not likely to occur on a yacht but in a conference in the District of Columbia because no one is above the law.”

When asked whether he has had any communication with the US attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia, Racine declined to provide specifics.

“I think it’s best for us to not go into that,” he said. “I can tell you that we’ve certainly made outreach.”

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