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Report: Members of Congress Push NFL For Emails, Info on WFT Probe

Two House Democrats pushed NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to give Congress the findings concerning the Washington Football Team investigation and how the league handled the matter, per the Washington Post

This is the latest push for more transparency on the leaked emails that contained anti-LGBTQ, racist and misogynistic language. 

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) sent a five-page letter to Goodell, asking for him to produce “all documents and communications obtained in connection with the investigation into the WFT, its management, its owners, and any other matter relating to or resulting from the WFT investigation” by Nov. 4. 

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy confirmed to the Post that they received the letter, echoing their concern that “all workplaces should be free from any form of harassment and discrimination.”

The letter from the lawmakers highlighted that during the league's investigation, attorney Beth Wilkinson conducted over a hundred interviews and collected 650,000 emails, but the findings were not made public. 

“We have serious concerns about what appears to be widespread abusive workplace conduct at the WFT and about the NFL’s handling of this matter,” the letter states.

Dan Snyder, co-owner of the WFT, hired Wilkinson to investigate the franchise's workplace culture following the Post releasing a report that included 15 former female employees of the team describing their experiences with sexual harassment and verbal abuse within the organization. Additionally, WFT cheerleaders alleged they were secretly videotaped while getting undressed, and later reached a settlement with the team.

The league then took over with Wilkinson reporting to Jeff Pash, the longtime general counsel of the NFL and advisor to Goodell who is the latest under scrutiny following the 650,000 emails the league investigated that resulted in ex-Raiders coach Jon Gruden's resignation. The New York Times uncovered misogynistic, racist and anti-LGBTQ emails sent by Gruden from 2010 to '18, which were also collected and reviewed by the NFL while it investigated the Washington Football Team. The ex-coach reportedly sent the emails to then-team president Bruce Allen.

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Pash reportedly had a close relationship with Allen, whose correspondence was under investigation.

"Their emails suggest that, when the Washington franchise was in crisis, Pash tended to offer a sympathetic shoulder rather than acting as an impartial arbiter," The Times wrote.

This raised skepticism concerning the league's impartiality in the investigation, which Maloney and Krishnamoorthi alluded to in the letter.

“Communications between league management and WFT leadership also raise questions about the league’s asserted impartiality in these investigations,” they wrote, per the Post. “The NFL’s lack of transparency about the problems it recently uncovered raises questions about the seriousness with which it has addressed bigotry, racism, sexism, and homophobia—setting troubling precedent for other workplaces.”

When the investigation concluded, the team did receive a $10 million fine but the findings were not made public. Wilkinson reportedly did not submit a written report but verbally shared her findings. 

In wake of Gruden's resignation, former employees told the Washington Post that lawyers representing the Washington Football Team offered a financial settlement in exchange for public silence concerning the alleged workplace sexual harassment multiple former female employees endured. Lisa Banks, the lead attorney for former female team employees, told them that in exchange for money, they would have to sign nondisclosure agreements as well as agree to no longer do press interviews or post on social media about their experiences.

As a result of Gruden's resignation and The Times' report, Banks and Debra Katz, the lawyers representing 40 former WFT employees, released a statement urging the NFL to release the findings of its investigation into the team.

"It is truly outrageous that after the NFL's 10-month long investigation involving hundreds of witnesses and 650,000 documents related to the longtime culture of harassment and abuse at the Washington Football Team, the only person to be held accountable and lose their job is the coach of the Las Vegas Raiders," the statement read. "Our clients and the public at large deserve transparency and accountability. If not, the NFL and Roger Goodell must explain why they appear intent on protecting the Washington Football Team and owner Dan Snyder at all costs." 

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