The Washington Commanders and owner Daniel Snyder are again under investigation, as the NFL has launched an independent inquiry that will look into the latest allegations of misconduct against Snyder and the franchise arising from the recent House Oversight Committee roundtable. A public report will be created based off of the investigation, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will determine "appropriate action" once the process is completed, according to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones.
What's equally as notable is that Mary Jo White will lead the investigation. White, a former U.S. Attorney and the 31st chair of the Security Exchange Commission, is familiar with NFL workplace inquiries. As Judy Battista of NFL.com points out, White led the investigation of former Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, who ended up selling his team after allegations of inappropriate workplace conduct came to light. She also investigated the "Bountygate" incident involving the New Orleans Saints.
In a statement, the Commanders said they will not pursue their own investigation: "The Washington Commanders are pleased that the NFL has appointed Mary Jo White to look into recent allegations made by Tiffani Johnston."
As CBS Sports initially reported, Johnston, who spent eight years working for the team, told a congressional roundtable that she was "strategically" seated by Snyder at a work dinner so he could put "his hand on the middle of my thigh until I physically removed it." Johnston said this was done purposely and without consent as he touched her in a sexual manner. Johnston further alleged that Snyder "aggressively pushed" her toward his limo later that night before his attorney intervened, advising him not to engage the "very bad idea." Jason Friedman, Johnston's former boss, said in a letter to Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney D-N.Y. that he witnessed Snyder try to grab Johnston and push her to his limo.
The league released a statement earlier this month in the wake of reports that the Commanders had commissioned their own "independent" investigation into the matter in part stating that the NFL, not the Commanders, would conduct an independent investigation.
The team retained Pallas Global Group LLC to look into the claims made by Johnston, as The Washington Post's Nicki Jhabvala reported. The legal team was to be led by Debra Yang, a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, LLP in Los Angeles who was previously its chair of the White Collar Defense and Investigations Practice Group.
"The Team is committed to a thorough and independent investigation of Ms. Johnston's allegation, and pledges full cooperation with the investigation," the franchise said in its statement. "At the conclusion of the investigation, Ms. Yang will report her findings to Pallas Global Group, and those findings will be released to the public."
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi D-I.L., who was also a host of the congressional panel, told ESPN that the move by the Commanders was "disturbing."
"Dan Snyder already called Tiffani Johnston a liar," Krishnamoorthi said. "And so for him to then hire an investigator to look at those claims begs the question of whether the investigation will really be impartial or unbiased. Or will it be prejudiced in favor of Dan Snyder's side of the story, because after all, these investigators and these people are being paid by Dan Snyder."