Commanders investigation sparks partisan fight within House Oversight Committee

USA TODAY Sports

Politics has become more and more partisan in recent years. That dynamic has infected the Congressional investigation of the Washington Commanders.

The leading Democratic and Republican members of the US House Oversight & Reform Committee are openly squabbling over the probe of the NFL franchise, which started as a review of allegations of workplace misconduct but became in recent days an investigation of claims of multiple financial improprieties.

Via the Washington PostRepresentative James Comer, the leading Republican on the Committee, sent a letter on Thursday to Representative Carolyn Maloney, the chairperson of the Committee and a Democrat.

“Your reckless, ends-oriented investigation is an embarrassment to our Committee and a misuse of congressional oversight authority,” Comer wrote to Maloney. “It is yet another example of Democrats exceeding the bounds of what is permissible for Congress to investigate. . . . Even if this investigation was conducted with balanced and proper fact finding, which it has not been been, there is no recourse in the Oversight Committee for any of the allegedly aggrieved parties. This investigation is wasting valuable taxpayer resources – especially at a time when the American people are struggling with increasing inflation. ”

The respective positions aren’t a surprise. The Democratic Party typically advocates for the causes of individuals. The Republican Party commonly sides with the interests of business and corporate America.

Representative Comer also suggested that, given the discrepancy between the letter sent last week by the Committee to the Federal Trade Commission and the response from Commanders outside counsel Jordan Siev, Representative Maloney give former Washington employee Jason Friedman the opportunity to amend his prior statements to the Committee or refer the matter to the Department of Justice for an investigation as to the veracity of the statements Friedman made.

That’s a very fair point. Someone is telling a story that isn’t the truth. Whether it’s Friedman or the team, someone with the power to get to the bottom of it needs to.

Attorney Lisa Banks, in a new statement issued on Thursday, reiterated Friedman’s position that his version is accurate. Banks’s statement also makes the clearest reference yet to a non-disclosure agreement that keeps Friedman from discussing the situation.

“Again, Mr. Friedman stands by his testimony to Congress, which was based on the actions he himself took on behalf of the team, and which was supported by contemporaneous documentation, ”Banks said. “In response, he has been attacked personally and professionally by the team and now by a member of Congress. Unfortunately, Mr. Friedman remains contractually unable to defend himself publicly, but stands ready and able to answer any questions that the government, including Representative Comer, might have about his experiences or actions on behalf of the Washington Commanders. ”

Representative Maloney also issue a statement in response to the letter from Representative Comer.

“I am surprised that [Comer] believes that protecting workers from toxic workplaces is not a subject worthy of the Committee’s attention, especially after both Democratic and Republican Members condemned the ‘abhorrent behavior’ revealed by the Committee’s investigation and called for more transparency, ”Maloney said. “While [Comer] may believe we should have ignored troubling evidence of potential financial misconduct obtained during this investigation, I decided the more responsible course was to refer this to the Federal Trade Commission, which can now determine whether further actions are warranted. The Committee’s investigation into the team’s toxic workplace culture and the NFL’s handling of that matter will continue so we can ensure that employers are held accountable for their conduct and American workers are safe from harassment, discrimination, and other workplace misconduct. ”

The sharp disagreement in the tone and content of the messages from Comer and Maloney show that the investigation has a shelf life. If the Republicans regain control of the House of Representatives via the November 2022 election, the investigation will end, regardless of whether it’s actually over.

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