Congress tells Federal Trade Commission in letter Commanders may have broken financial laws

The U.S. House Oversight Committee sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday saying it found evidence the Washington Commanders might have engaged in potentially unlawful financial conduct for more than a decade by withholding ticket revenue from visiting teams and refundable deposits from fans.

In the letter, the committee outlined through the testimony of former employees and access to emails and documents a pattern of alleged financial impropriety by owner Dan Snyder and team executives. At one point in 2016, the committee said the team may have retained up to $5 million from 2,000 season-ticket holders while also potentially concealing sharable revenue from the league.

One former employee 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 testimony, Snyder was aware of the numbers shared with the league while also being privy to the actual data.

The business practice was known as “juice” inside Washington’s front office. And, if correct, it could spell significant trouble for Snyder and the Commanders.

Ticket revenue is shared among all 32 NFL teams, with 40% of it deposited in a visiting team fund. Such money is among the pillars of the league’s revenue-sharing commitment.

A team 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.”

An NFL spokesperson released the following statement on Tuesday to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero:

“We continue to cooperate with the Oversight Committee and have provided more than 210,000 pages of documents The NFL has engaged former SEC chair Mary Jo White to review the serious matters raised by the committee.”

The committee is sharing documents with the FTC while requesting the commission take any action necessary to make sure the money is returned to its rightful owners.

Congress launched an investigation into the team’s workplace misconduct after the league did not release a report detailing the findings of an independent probe into the matter. After testimony from former employees, that investigation expanded to the organization’s finances.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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