The former employee who alleged financial improprieties by the Washington Commanders should be given a chance to amend his statements or face an investigation by the Department of Justice for false statements, the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform wrote in a letter Thursday morning to the group's chairwoman.
Rep. James Comer, R-Kentucky, questioned the credibility of the former employee, Jason Friedman, who told members of the committee last month that Washington, among other things, had skirted the NFL's revenue-sharing program by moving money around and that the team made it difficult for consumers to receive security deposits. Comer disputed those charges, based on the team's rebuttal.
"It is a crime to knowingly and willfully make any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation to Congress, including congressional staff," Comer wrote.
Comer sent the two-page letter, obtained by ESPN, to Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-New York, reiterating the Republican's stance on the investigation into the Washington franchise. Comer, the ranking minority member of the Oversight Committee, said the whistleblower's allegations represented the committee's "one-sided approach" to the investigation.
Responding to Comer's letter, Friedman's attorney, Lisa Banks, said in a statement, "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. 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."
Congress has been investigating the team's workplace culture since late October, following the NFL's inquiry into the club that ended July 1 with a $10 million fine. Republicans have said from the beginning that Congress should not be looking into a private business.
As part of the investigation, Friedman told Congress on March 14 about the alleged financial improprieties. He spent 24 years with the Washington franchise, serving as the vice president of sales and customer service. He was fired in October 2020 for job performance and, the team said, for contributing to the toxic workplace culture.
Friedman also corroborated allegations that former employee Tiffani Johnston made during a Feb. 3 roundtable session with the committee. She alleged that owner Dan Snyder placed his hand on her leg under the table at a dinner and later tried to force her into his limousine, which Friedman said he witnessed.
Sources said Comer's representatives, and other Republicans, were present when Friedman was initially interviewed.
Maloney, in a statement, said she was "surprised" that Comer "believes that protecting workers from toxic workplaces is not a subject worthy of the Committee's attention."
"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," Maloney said.
The Oversight Committee sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission on April 12, asking the agency to investigate Friedman's claims. The Commanders countered with their own letter to the FTC on Monday, disputing the claims with signed affidavits by four former high-ranking club officials.
Washington's letter included emails that the team says refute Friedman's claims. The team pointed out that he did not work in the accounting or finance departments and, therefore, would not have complete knowledge of financial issues.
"The information contained in the Team's letter to the FTC raises serious concerns about Mr. Friedman's statements. Rather than vet his claims, you publicly repeated them," Comer wrote.
Comer wrote that the committee should evaluate whether Friedman should be given the chance to amend his prior statements in another interview session. Or, Comer wrote, Friedman should be "referred to the Department of Justice for investigation into the veracity of his statements to Congress."