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Congress tells FTC Commanders may have broken financial laws

The US House Oversight Committee sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission stating that it had found evidence that the NFL’s Washington commanders were engaged in illegal financial conduct.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. House Oversight Committee has sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission saying it has found evidence that the NFL’s Washington commanders had engaged in potentially illegal financial conduct for more than a decade through ticket revenue from visiting teams and refundable deposits from fans.

In the letter obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday, the committee outlined a pattern of financial impropriety by owner Dan Snyder and team managers through the testimonies of former employees and access to emails and documents. At one point in 2016, the committee said the team withheld up to $5 million from 2,000 season ticket holders, while also hiding shareable earnings from the league.

A former employee testified before Congress, saying the team had two separate financial books — one with underreported ticket revenue going to the NFL — and the full, complete picture. According to testimonials, Snyder was aware of the numbers being shared with the league while also being aware of the actual data.

The business practice was known as “juice” in the Washington front office. And if it’s correct, it could cause major problems for Snyder and the commanders.

Ticket revenue will be distributed among all 32 NFL teams, with 40% going into a visiting team fund. Such money is one of the pillars of the league’s revenue-sharing commitment.

A spokeswoman for the team said there was no new comment, referring to the March 31 statement: “The team categorically denies any suggestion of financial impropriety of any kind.”

“We adhere to strict internal processes that conform to industry and accounting standards, are audited annually by a globally respected independent audit firm, and are also subject to regular audits by the NFL. We will continue to cooperate fully in the work of the committee.”

The league did not immediately respond to a message asking for comment.

The committee is sharing documents with the FTC and is asking the committee to take all necessary steps to ensure that the funds are returned to their rightful owners.

Congress launched an investigation into the team’s workplace misconduct after the league failed to release a report detailing the findings of an independent investigation into the matter. After testimonials from former employees, that investigation expanded into the organization’s finances.

Attorneys Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, who represent more than 40 former employees, including some who testified, called the letter “damned.”

“Clearly, the team’s misconduct goes well beyond the sexual harassment and abuse of employees that have already been documented, and has also impacted the bottom line for the NFL, other NFL owners, and the team’s fans.” they said in a statement. “We are proud of our many clients who have come forward at great personal risk to reveal the truth and bring us closer to total transparency about the full extent of the dysfunction at the Washington Commanders.”

Associated Press reporter Farnoush Amiri contributed.

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://apnews.com/hub/pro-32 and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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