Grand jury probing $55M loan; Commanders deny owner Dan Snyder sought legal shield

The Washington Commanders are denying reports that Dan Snyder placed a condition on his selling of the team: that the NFL cover his future legal costs and liability.

The Washington Post reported on Monday night that Snyder and his attorneys demanded NFL owners and the league indemnify him against legal liability and costs if he completes the sale of the team.

But the Washington Commanders issued the following statement Monday night that said the reports aren’t factual.

“The story posted tonight by the Washington Post regarding the transaction process involving the Washington Commanders is simply untrue.”

The Post’s article claimed that Snyder has also included a threat to sue the league if the conditions are not met. The demand angered other team owners and reportedly reopened talks about voting to remove Snyder from ownership if he doesn’t willingly sell the team, according to the report.

The outlet claims that Snyder would also like to keep the findings of an NFL investigation into the team’s workplace confidential.

The league has said they will publicly release the findings from the investigation by former Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White, who is conducting the review on behalf of the NFL.

ESPN report: Grand jury subpoenaes financial records

In the aftermath of The Washington Post story about Snyder seeking indemnification, ESPN on Tuesday reported that a federal grand jury has issued subpoenas related to team finances after prosecutors launched an inquiry into a $55 million loan he took out without the knowledge and approval of his then-minority owners. ESPN said the criminal inquiry is being led by a team of FBI and IRS agents.

Snyder bought out minority owners Fred Smith, Dwight Schar and Bob Rothman in spring 2021 after they sued him the previous November seeking an injunction to allow them to sell their shares of the team. That transaction was approved by league owners.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement sent to The Associated Press that Snyder and his previous minority owners “had a series of disputes” before going through mediation with an arbitrator and Commissioner Roger Goodell and coming away with an agreement.

“The agreement included full releases of all claims that were or could have been asserted by any party in the arbitration proceeding,” McCarthy said.

Representatives for Snyder and the Commanders did not immediately respond to messages from the Associated Press seeking comment on the ESPN report.

How did the Commanders get here?

A previous investigation found the team’s leadership overlooked sexual harassment and other workplace issues. That investigation’s findings prompted a $10 million fine in 2021. In response, Snyder stepped away from day-to-day operations for several months at that time.

A report published by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform last December, said the team created a “toxic work culture” for over twenty years, “ignoring and downplaying sexual misconduct,” and what female employees characterized as hundreds of instances of sexual harassment by men at the top levels of the organization.

Snyder himself has been accused of groping a former team employee and of overseeing a workplace in which women were frequently harassed and demeaned. The report claimed Snyder ordered women auditioning to be cheerleaders to walk on the field, while he and his friends watched from his suite with binoculars.

The (potential) sale

After previously being adamant that he’d never sell the team, Snyder originally contacted Bank of America to evaluate the possible sale of the Washington Commanders in November. Since that time, a number of candidates have emerged to buy the team, including Josh Harris, owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils.

Jeff Bezos, who owns the Washington Post, has also hired an investment firm to explore the possibility of purchasing the team. Bezos founded Amazon, which is building their second headquarters in nearby Arlington, Virginia.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jessica Kronzer

Jessica Kronzer graduated from James Madison University in May 2021 after studying media and politics. She enjoys covering politics, advocacy and compelling human-interest stories.

Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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