Commanders send letter to Federal Trade Commission denying financial impropriety

The Washington Commanders denied several allegations of financial impropriety in a letter sent Monday to the U.S Federal Trade Commission.

The 105-page letter, which included testimony, emails and other documents, came as a response to the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee asking the FTC to look into the team’s business practices.

The committee last week told the FTC in a letter that it found evidence of potentially deceptive business practices over the span of more than a decade, including withholding ticket revenue from visiting teams and refundable deposits from fans. The NFL said it engaged Securities and Exchange Commission chair Mary Jo White “to review the most serious matters raised by the committee.”

The Commanders’ letter, signed by Jordan W. Siev from the law firm Reed Smith, denies all of those allegations and takes aim at the motives and character of former VP of sales and customer service Jason Friedman, whose testimony against the team framed the committee’s recommendation. Siev argues no financial investigation is warranted, writing the committee never requested information about the allegations made, which the Commanders believe would clear them of any wrongdoing.

“The committee did not request a single document from the team; the committee did not invite a single representative of the team to address the truth of the matters contained in the committee’s letter; and the committee did not pose questions to the team to answer in writing about its allegations, or provide any mechanism whatsoever for the team to address the truth of the allegations,” the letter said. “Had the committee posed any of these questions or requests to the team, the team could — and would — easily and fully have rebutted each allegation.”

Congress began looking into the team’s workplace misconduct after the league did not release a report detailing the findings of an independent investigation into the matter, which led to a $10 million fine but no other discipline. The committee said the NFL and the team “have taken steps to withhold key documents and information.”

In response to Congress’ letter to the FTC on April 12, a Commanders spokesperson referred NFL.com to the organization’s statement issued on March 31: “The team categorically denies any suggestion of financial impropriety of any kind at any time.”

“We adhere to strict internal processes that are consistent with industry and accounting standards, are audited annually by a globally respected independent auditing firm, and are also subject to regular audits by the NFL. We continue to cooperate fully with the Committee’s work.”

Friedman testified before Congress saying the team had two separate financial books: one with underreported ticket revenue that went to the NFL and the full, complete picture. According to Friedman’s testimony, owner Dan Snyder was aware of the numbers shared with the league while also being privy to the actual data.

In the team’s letter to the FTC, former director of finance Paul Szczenski is quoted as saying, “I can state unequivocally that I never helped maintain, or saw anyone else maintain, a ‘second set’ of books.” The team also cites declarations from former chief operating officer Mitch Gershman and former general counsel David Donovan along with emails and other documents to refute allegations cited by the Oversight Committee.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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