Congress probes alleged sex harassment at football team. Why?

Daniel Snyder owns the Washington Football Team. In response to allegations that he and others at the team indulged in sexual harassment of female employees, the NFL hired a prominent lawyer, Beth Wilkinson, to investigate. Based on the results of the investigation, the NFL fined the team $10 million and announced that Snyder’s wife, not Snyder, will run the day-to-day affairs of the team for an unspecified period of time.

Was this a fair resolution of the matter? I don’t know. It’s impossible to form an intelligent opinion without knowing what the investigation revealed, and the NFL has not made the results of the investigation public.

That’s fine with me. I’m not burning with desire to learn what the investigation revealed or to form an opinion about whether the punishment fits the crime. I would feel the same way about an investigation of any private entity whose product I consume. Allegations of sexual harassment against a government official or agency are a different story.

But congressional Democrats don’t see it this way. The House Committee on Oversight and Reform is desperate to learn whether and to what extent Dan Snyder harassed his female employees. On October 21, it sent a letter to the NFL commissioner requesting all documents and notes related to the nearly year-long investigation of the Washington Football team. The deadline for responding was November 4.

The NFL did not meet that deadline and has not yet produced the documents. Yesterday, reacting to allegations that Snyder sought to disrupt the investigation, Carolyn Maloney, who chairs the Oversight Committee, demanded production of the documents and expressed the Committee’s renewed resolve to investigate the matter.

Why? I understand the need for congressional oversight committees to oversee the executive branch of the federal government. But why do they need to oversee the National Football League?

The committee’s investigation of Dan Snyder and the NFL strikes me as a blatant waste of taxpayer dollars and an obvious instance of congressional overreach. I’m glad the League, for whatever reason, has not responded to the request of documents. Let Maloney’s staffers find something more worthwhile to do than pore over Dan Snyder’s emails and tens of thousands of other documents.

I hope the NFL stalls for another year. After that, there’s a good chance Republicans will control the House and, I’d like to believe, will let this senseless investigation die.

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