The Washington Commanders, via the law firm Reed Smith, issued a lengthy letter to the Federal Trade Commission Monday in response to allegations of financial misconduct and a toxic workplace culture made last week by the House Oversight Committee.
The letter is addressed to FTC chair Lina M. Khan and raises four claims to dispute the House Oversight Committee’s letter to the FTC. The first is the committee’s letter to the FTC was based on the input of a “single disgruntled employee.” The second is that the Committee did not reach out to the organization about any of the allegations, the Commanders say. The third alleges that the former employee, Jason Friedman, is “wholly unreliable,” and the fourth states that Friedman’s testimony to the committee contradicts alleged efforts he made to get his job back.
“As set forth in more detail below, the Committee’s Letter – which relies solely on the uncorroborated, false testimony of a single disgruntled former employee – sets forth easily and fully rebuttable allegations,” Jordan W. Siev, a partner at Reed Smith, wrote in the letter. “Had the Committee requested any information from the Team on the issues raised in the Committee’s letter, the Team could, and would, have provided testimony and documents making clear that the complained-of conduct did not occur. Based upon all the information provided herein, no investigation is warranted.”
The letter runs 18 pages long. Including the 17 exhibits of added documentation that are tacked onto the end of the letter, the entire document is 102 pages.
The letter questions the integrity of Friedman, a former team sales executive who spent 24 years with the Commanders. According to SIev’s letter, Washington fired Friedman in October 2020 for professional misconduct.
The Commanders say the areas implicated by Friedman’s testimony to the committee “have been subject to regular and thorough audits by independent and respected auditors.”
Friedman told the committee that, among other things, the Commanders used “two sets of books” for financial accounting – one of which underreported ticket revenue to the NFL. He also provided emails to the committee between himself and other team executives in which they appear to discuss reallocating ticket revenue, which they termed “juice.”
One email exchange appears to reference counting “juice” from a Washington home game as revenue from a college football game between Navy and Notre Dame.
In the letter, Siev attaches screengrabs and writes that revenue from the Navy-Notre Dame game was “appropriately accounted for” and also says that Friedman was misinformed about the term “juice,” which he says was “a slang term at the Team to refer to an upside in revenue.”
Siev, citing Friedman’s admissions to the committee in testimony, goes on to call him a “serial liar” in the letter.
This all stems from the House Oversight Committee’s announcement Tuesday in which it said it had reason to believe the Washington Commanders and owner Daniel Snyder might have withheld or concealed ticket revenue and related funds as part of “a troubling, long-running, and potentially unlawful pattern of financial conduct.”
In its letter sent to the FTC, the committee said that as part of its ongoing investigation into allegations of a toxic workplace culture within the Commanders’ organization, it obtained evidence that the team might have underreported some of its ticket revenue to the NFL. A portion of ticket revenue is pooled among NFL teams as part of the league’s revenue-sharing agreement.
The committee also informed the FTC, which investigates deceptive business practices, that the team might have intentionally withheld “approximately $5 million” in refundable ticket deposits that it owed to fans and corporations.
NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said the league is cooperating and has turned over more than 210,000 pages of documents to the committee.
“The NFL has engaged former (Securities and Exchange Commission) chair Mary Jo White to review the serious matters raised by the committee,” McCarthy said.
Contributing: Tom Schad