The Washington Commanders on Monday strongly denied a former team employee's allegation to Congress that they withheld ticket revenue from visiting teams, saying that amounted to perjury. But the attorney for that former employee said the team's statement defamed him.
The former employee, Jason Friedman, testified before some members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee sometime in the past two weeks that Washington and owner Dan Snyder committed financial improprieties.
According to multiple sources, it involved allegations that the team withheld ticket revenue from visiting teams. Teams are required to deposit 40% of their ticket revenue into a visiting team fund as part of the NFL's revenue sharing.
"There has been absolutely no withholding of ticket revenue at any time by the Commanders," a Washington Commanders spokesperson said in a statement. "Those revenues are subject to independent audits by multiple parties. Anyone who offered testimony suggesting a withholding of revenue has committed perjury, plain and simple."
Friedman, who was a vice president of sales and customer service, worked for the franchise for 24 years before being fired in October 2020, two months after Jason Wright was hired as team president. Multiple sources have said the evidence so far presented to Congress does not support the allegation.
"They defamed my client, Jason Friedman, who came forward at the request of the Congressional Oversight Committee and testified truthfully, with evidence," his attorney, Lisa Banks, said in a statement. "Unfortunately, Mr. Friedman is unable to defend himself publicly due to contractual constraints that prevent him from speaking freely. He would be happy to recount his testimony if Dan Snyder and the Washington Commanders allow him to do so."
On Tuesday morning, the Commanders responded to the idea that they defamed Friedman.
Commanders lawyer Joseph Tacopina said in a statement, "The Commanders did not reference Mr. Friedman -- or anyone else -- by name in their statement. However, if Mr. Friedman believes he has been defamed, he should bring a defamation suit. The Commanders will gladly accept service and vigorously defend any such claim."
Congress has been investigating Washington and owner Dan Snyder since late October. After a 10-month investigation, the NFL fined the franchise $10 million in July for having created a toxic workplace culture.
Friedman had issued a statement supporting Tiffani Johnston's allegation at a roundtable session before Congress on Feb. 3, when she alleged that owner Dan Snyder tried to force her into his limousine.
As of late last week, multiple Committee members were unaware of the new allegations, according to sources.
Some league sources said that it would be difficult to alter the books based on the stringent auditing process by the NFL. The league conducts an audit of teams every several years. Washington was audited in 2012, '16 and '19. It's common for every NFL team to pay more after these audits, often several hundred thousand dollars. In 2019, a source said, Washington had to pay an additional $86,000.
Before the NFL would perform its audit, Washington would conduct its own with an outside accounting firm, BDO USA.
On Friday, after the allegations about financial improprieties were reported by The Washington Post and Front Office Sports, Austin Hacker, a spokesman for the Republicans on the Oversight Committee, said in a statement that the "leak of one-sided, unconfirmed, unsupported allegations from a disgruntled ex-employee with an ax to grind is just further proof that the Democrats' investigation is a waste of Congress' time. Nothing the Committee has heard from any credible witnesses points to any financial improprieties; in fact, the only credible witness in a position to know the facts the Democrats have heard from has denied any such improprieties."