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Lawyers for Commanders staff blast ex-chair's 'stunning hypocrisy'

ASHBURN, Va. -- The attorneys for more than 40 Washington Commanders employees called a letter sent to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform by former chairman Tom Davis "stunning hypocrisy" because of its requests and "blatant errors and omissions."

Attorneys Lisa Banks and Debra Katz on Friday responded to Davis' letter, which was sent to the committee Wednesday. It raised concerns about the investigative process and cast doubt on the credibility of various witnesses. Davis, who led the committee for four years, works for the law firm Holland & Knight, which represents the team.

Davis as well as other attorneys for Commanders owner Dan Snyder say Congress interviewed only 20 witnesses and no one currently with the organization in its quest to learn about the team's workplace culture. They said attorney Beth Wilkinson, who investigated the team for the NFL, had talked to 150 people. Davis also wrote that the investigation had become a partisan effort by Democrats.

In response, Banks and Katz wrote: "The Washington Commanders and Dan Snyder have stonewalled the Committee from the beginning of its investigation and have steadfastly refused to produce important requested documents and information, including but not limited to the findings of the Beth Wilkinson investigation."

The attorneys said they would like to include Wilkinson's findings, but "because Mr. Snyder and the NFL have refused to provide the Committee with the Wilkinson findings and supporting documentation, it has been forced to start from square one to collect relevant information. The investigation has been ongoing for a year, due in no small part to the team's failure to cooperate."

Davis pointed to former Washington team president Bruce Allen as the main cause of what eventually was labeled by Wilkinson as the team's toxic workplace culture.

"We do know that none of our clients has alleged that Mr. Allen played any role in the harassment or abuse they suffered or witnessed," the attorneys wrote. "In fact, most have never even met Mr. Allen. It is difficult to credit the team's insistence that because Mr. Allen is gone, the problems with the team's culture are in the past."

John Brownlee, also with Holland & Knight and the Commanders' legal counsel, said they sent Davis' letter as well as emails from former employees because they wanted to put "evidence in the record with the hope [the committee] would consider it. They've done nothing to challenge the credibility."

Banks and Katz reiterated that they want Snyder to provide the committee with the findings of Wilkinson's investigation and to waive all nondisclosure agreements for current and former employees so they can speak to the committee. They also asked for "full and unfettered access" by the committee to the team's information and documents.

"Otherwise, Dan Snyder and the Washington Commanders should stop complaining about the evidentiary basis of Committee's investigation," they wrote.

The House committee's report is expected to be released this fall, approximately one year after the investigation began.