At one point in the ongoing drama engulfing the upper levels of the Washington Football Team, majority owner Daniel Snyder tiptoed around the notion that minority owner Dwight Schar was behind efforts to smear Snyder, part of an apparent strategy to force Snyder to sell his interest in the franchise. Now, Snyder has stopped pulling punches.
Snyder has submitted a declaration (i.e., written testimony under penalty of perjury but without being placed under oath) in pending federal litigation regarding the efforts of three minority owners to sell their shares of the team in a bulk transaction to the same group of buyers. The five-page document, publicly available and titled “First Supplemental Declaration Of Daniel M. Snyder In Opposition To Plaintiffs’ Emergency Motion Concerning Violation of The Court’s November 19, 2020 Order,” contains 19 numbered paragraphs outlining Snyder’s belief that Schar has engaged in an “extortion campaign” aimed at forcing Snyder to sell the team.
In the document, Snyder initially focuses on the potential connection between Schar and Monday’s report that Snyder settled a sexual misconduct lawsuit in 2009 for $1.6 million. Although Snyder doesn’t expressly claim that Schar leaked the information to the Washington Post, Snyder suggests that a recent court filing by Schar and the other minority owners contained “irrelevant and spurious material” that, when quoted by the story from the Post regarding the settlement, “improperly give the misleading impression . . . that there was merit to the allegations of misconduct,” and that the purpose of the court filing by Schar and the other minority owners “is now clear: to try to continue to smear me in an effort to gain leverage in this business dispute.”
Snyder then alleges in the declaration that Schar has “knowledge that no evidence of wrongdoing was found after an investigation by a well-respected law firm,” and that Schar “nevertheless threatened to reveal [the settlement] to discredit me and embarrass my family, but which the insurance carrier decided to settle.” Although not expressly linked to the report of the $1.6 million settlement, the context plainly indicates that this statement represents Snyder’s response to the question of whether he engaged in misconduct in connection with the events leading to that settlement.
Snyder’s declaration then pivots to the broader allegation that Schar has tried for months, via articles ultimately appearing in the Washington Post “that characterized the Team and me personally in a negative manner,” to pressure Snyder to sell. Snyder claims that Schar has “funneled information about me and the team to Mary Ellen Blair, a former Executive Assistant with the Team, to be proivided to The Washington Post.” Snyder also contends in the declaration that Blair has confirmed that Schar “told [her] to share information with The Washington Post,” and that Schar’s daughter bought Blair a “‘burned phone’ in order to attempt to escape detection of Mr. Schar’s conspiratorial communications.”
Snyder’s declaration subsequently alleges that, “[f]or the past five months, there have been repeated threats by Mr. Schar and others associated with him.” Snyder’s declaration alleges that, on July 25, Schar threatened Snyder’s personal attorney, “telling him that the threat he has been seeking to hold over me would come out if I didn’t ‘just sell the team’; that I ‘won’t have a choice’; that the story ‘will kill Dan’; and that I ‘will suffer a terrible existence.'”
Next, Snyder claims in the declaration that investment banker John Moag “threatened me with the exact same things by text message.” Snyder then quotes from Moag’s message: “If you continue your game, you know what I know and what I have never spoken about. And you know it has nothing to do with the media shit….it’s more serious shit. If you want a shit show, we are on for that too.”
Snyder concludes the declaration by addressing the core reason for its filing — he denies the accusations from the minority owners that he has improperly leaked information to the press, in violation of a court order entered on November 19.
Although written somewhat vaguely, perhaps given the legal minefield that Snyder and the other owners currently are navigating, this document from Snyder seems to be more about publicizing both his version of the $1.6 million settlement and his contention that Schar has extorted Snyder and less about proving Snyder isn’t leaking information to the media in violation of a court order. There’s definitely no leaking being done in the declaration; Snyder puts his name on the accusations and, when reading the entire document and considering the broader context, Snyder says a lot.
Snyder, Schar, and minority owners Fred Smith and Robert Rothman, undoubtedly will be saying plenty more when they answer questions from the presiding judge in two weeks on the question of whether leaks have occurred in violation of the court’s confidentiality order.