Members of Congress Call For 'Complete Transparency' From NFL on WFT Probe – CalBearsMaven Leave a comment

As the No. 4 deadline to hand over its investigation findings to Congress came and went, two members of Congress are calling for "complete transparency" from the NFL on its handlings of the Washington Football Team investigation.
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 NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in October. They asked 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. 
The commissioner said the league would “be cooperative” with Congress, but according to ESPN, the NFL only partially responded to the House Democrats' request. 
“Commissioner Goodell said the NFL will cooperate with Congress, and we expect him to make good on that promise by producing the documents requested,” said Rep. Maloney in a press release on Friday. “In the spirit of transparency, I am calling on the NFL and Washington Football Team to honor the Commissioner’s public statement that witnesses to the team’s hostile workplace culture are ‘welcome’ to come forward. Congress has a responsibility to combat harassment and discrimination in the workplace. If the NFL shares our commitment to address these issues, it will be fully transparent about the findings of the internal review and will allow all individuals to speak freely without fear of retaliation.” 
The league reportedly only sent back answers to the members' questions but not documents of the findings as requested. 
"The NFL on Thursday submitted responses to the questions in the Committee's October 21 letter," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement to ESPN. "As we have discussed with the Committee, we are in the process of identifying responsive documents while working through issues of privilege and anonymity promised to participants in the investigation." 
The October letter from the lawmakers highlighted that during the league's investigation, attorney Beth Wilkinson conducted over 100 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 stated. 
Dan Snyder, co-owner of the WFT, hired Wilkinson to investigate the franchise's workplace culture following the Washington Post releasing a report that included 15 former female employees of the team describing their alleged 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-WFT president Bruce Allen.
Pash reportedly had a close relationship with Allen, whose correspondence was under investigation. This raised skepticism concerning the league's impartiality in the investigation, which Maloney and Krishnamoorthi alluded to in their letter.
Goodell shared in a press conference several days later that the WFT emails and findings have not been and will not be released because the league promised anonymity to individuals who helped with the investigation.
"We're very conscious of making sure we're protecting those who came forward," Goodell said. "They were incredibly brave, incredibly open, and we respect the pain that they probably went through all over again to come forward. That was a very high priority."
Rep. Krishnamoorthi told WUSA9 the next day, "I'm disturbed by what he said.
"He said he wants to cooperate with us, which is good. But on the other hand he said he doesn't want to produce any documents or turn over any information," said Rep. Krishnamoorthi. "So, I'm not really sure what it means to cooperate with us if he doesn't want to share what we've requested."
Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, the attorneys representing 40 former Washington Football Team employees who participated in the investigation, rejected Goodell's position on releasing the WFT probe findings, saying he "misrepresented the wishes of our clients."
"You have chosen to hide behind the 'incredibly brave' women and men who came forward to try to justify your decision to protect the WFT and Dan Snyder from whatever is contained in those findings," the attorneys penned in a letter to Goodell in late October. "You have misrepresented the wishes of our clients, and likely those of the other women and men who came forward, to justify your decision to bury what we know would be a damning report, having sat through dozens of interviews.
WFT received a $10 million fine when the investigation concluded but Snyder was not personally punished as a result, although his wife did become co-CEO and began to handle day-to-day operations. Goodell said he felt Snyder was held accountable considering the “unprecedented fine” and that he “hasn’t been involved with the football team for four months."
The findings were not made public, and Wilkinson reportedly did not submit a written report but verbally shared her findings.
“While Commissioner Roger Goodell has told the press that victims and witnesses are free to take their story public, he should know many of them do not have that option,” Rep. Krishnamoorthi said in a press release. “Dan Snyder, the owner of the Washington Football Team, has saddled them with gag orders, preventing them from coming forward due to fear of retaliation.” 
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