Commanders employees ask Dan Snyder to let them out of NDAs after lawyer's 'not true' claims to Congress

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Dan Snyder's lawyer, Karen Seymour, claimed that her client had never used a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to silence a Washington Commanders employee before Congress.

A group of Commanders employees are now asking that same lawyer to stop using NDAs to silence them from Congress.

In a letter obtained by The Washington Post's Nicki Jhabvala, Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, attorneys representing 40 former Washington employees, requested that Seymour have Snyder waive any NDAs for any witness testifying to Congress.

Snyder had previously waived the NDAs for employees speaking to past NFL investigator Beth Wilkinson, who was originally hired by the Commanders and not allowed to release her findings publicly, and current investigator Mary Jo White.

From the letter:

If it is true that Mr. Snyder does not intend to obstruct the ability of witnesses to speak with the Committee, we request that he agree to waive any NDA for that purpose, just as he did with Ms. Wilkinson's investigation and the ongoing NFL investigation being conducted by attorney Mary Jo White. That would provide much needed comfort to my clients and many other witnesses so that they can speak freely without fear of legal jeopardy.

Banks and Katz also called out Seymour for claiming Snyder had never invoked an NDA to limit an employee's ability to testify before Congress, which House Committee on Oversight and Reform chair Carolyn Maloney accused the billionaire of doing while requesting he appear before Congress.

The pair of attorneys called Seymour's claims "not true" and said at least one client, Abby Welch, had to carefully approach her testimony to avoid running afoul of her NDA.

Where in the world is Dan Snyder?

Snyder and Congress remain in a standoff over his potential testimony.

Snyder previously agreed to testify to the Committee, but only if he could do so voluntarily, a status that would allow him to avoid answering questions if he doesn't want to and not be under oath. The Committee wants Snyder to testify under subpoena, and that's where the situation becomes surreal.

Theoretically, a subpoena means a person is compelled to testify, but Snyder has spent the last month-plus overseas on his yacht, where Congress can not serve him with a subpoena. It is unclear where he currently is; the indomitable Dan Snyder Yacht Tracker most recently placed him in Italy, his private jet in Israel and his second private jet in Germany.

In theory, Snyder only has to wait out for the end of the Congressional term in January, when the Republicans could retake the House, to avoid being forced to testify.

It was in that demand Snyder be allowed to testify voluntarily that Seymour claimed Snyder had not been using NDAs to silence employees and "has been fully committed to cooperating in the Committee’s investigation" (cue the laugh track).

LANDOVER, MD - FEBRUARY 2:  Co-owner Dan Snyder gives remarks as the Washington Football Team announces their new team name the Commanders at a morning event  at FedEx Field on February 2, 2022 in Landover, MD . (Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Dan Snyder is spending some time overseas as the Commanders begin training camp. (Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The full letter to Dan Snyder's attorney

Dear Ms. Seymour,

We are writing to address certain statements you made in your July 13, 2022, letter to Carolyn Maloney, Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, regarding your client, Daniel Snyder, and to request clarification with respect to any non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) signed by my clients.

In your letter to Chair Maloney, you state: "Mr. Snyder has not invoked any NDA to limit the information provided by witnesses that have spoken to the committee," suggesting that witnesses were free to answer any and all questions from the Committee notwithstanding any NDA they might have signed with the Washington Commanders. As you know, that is not true. An NDA, by definition, limits information that a witness can disclose to a third party, including the Committee, subject to the terms of the agreement.

In your letter, you also specifically addressed our client, Abby Dymond Welch, stating that Mr. Snyder "never prevented Ms. Welch from sharing information with the Committee ...." That is also not true, and Ms. Welch was forced to approach her testimony to the Committee carefully so as not to run afoul of any legal agreements to which she was bound. While Mr. Snyder did waive NDAs for any individual who wanted to speak with investigator Beth Wilkinson (and then refused to allow the results of that investigation to be released, even to the Committee), he did not similarly agree to waive NDAs for witnesses appearing before the Committee. As such, he has effectively prevented any witness with an NDA from sharing information with the Committee without exposing themselves to serious legal risk that Mr. Snyder will pursue legal action against them.

If it is true that Mr. Snyder does not intend to obstruct the ability of witnesses to speak with the Committee, we request that he agree to waive any NDA for that purpose, just as he did with Ms. Wilkinson's investigation and the ongoing NFL investigation being conducted by attorney Mary Jo White. That would provide much needed comfort to my clients and many other witnesses so that they can speak freely without fear of legal jeopardy.

Finally, we must take exception to the mischaracterization in your letter of our position on NDAs contained in a Washington Post Op-Ed from December 2019. We did not assert, as you suggest, that NDAs are essential and that no one should ever question their utility or propriety. Rather, our more nuanced position, which is clear when the article is read in full was and is that NDAs as a condition of employment are always wrong, but that NDAs that are a term of a separation package can be valuable for an employee if it is desired by the employee and is truly voluntary. NDAs that are forced upon an employee in order to allow perpetrators to continue their predatory behavior are wrong and we support legislation to ban them.

Please let us know by this Friday, July 29, if Mr. Snyder will agree to release witnesses who wish to speak to the Committee from any NDA so that he is not in a position to limit information or prevent a witness from sharing information critical to the Committee's investigation. We look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely, Lisa J. Banks Debra S. Katz

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