Commanders Charity Under Scrutiny from Watchdog Groups After Analysis | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors

By | December 22, 2022

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

Two nonprofit watchdog groups—CharityWatch and the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy—and an investigation by ESPN’s Tisha Thompson found that the Washington Commanders’ Charitable Foundation is “operating in a manner that calls into question whether it is upholding its charitable mission responsibly.”

“There are so many red flags here, it’s hard to keep score,” CharityWatch executive director Laurie Styron told Thompson. “Taxpayers who subsidize the existence of public charities also have a stake in knowing that nonprofits aren’t being used to forward the personal interests of the people running it.”

The charity receives 75 percent of its donations from the public and the team’s fans. In 2020, it allegedly raised $2.1 million in contributions and grants and gave away $697,000. In 2021, it is said to have raised $927,992 and gave away more $471,000.

The review found that the charity “lacks sufficient independent oversight”; failed to disclose that one of the companies it owes money to belongs to team owner Daniel Snyder; had a number of “unusual transactions” listed in its filings; and provided grants to organizations that don’t align with its mission statement.

“The Washington Commander owners, players, donors, alumni, and staff have dedicated time and resources to helping others and we are very proud of the work that has been accomplished, while becoming even more integrated as a community partner in the Washington region,” team spokesperson Jean Medina said in a statement.

Up until April, Commander’s co-CEO Tanya Snyder was the sole voting board member in the foundation. Team president Jason Wright, senior vice president of corporate affairs and strategy Amina Bulman, Commanders’ Charitable Foundation executive director, Valeri Biberaj and chief operating officer Greg Resh were then added as voting board members by Snyder.

Resh later left both the team and the foundation’s voting board in September.

“The potential for abuse is really, really high,” President and CEO of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy Aaron Dorfman told Thompson regarding the board being comprised solely of team employees.

“The better practice would be to have some people on the board who are not kept to the Snyders or to the team,” he added. “People who have the best interests of vulnerable children, because the foundation says that is what it’s working toward. And that would help guarantee that the foundation is used for its intended purpose of really benefiting the community.”

It is the latest controversy for the Snyders and the Commanders, who have faced numerous investigations and inquiries in the past year, including a House Committee on Oversight and Reform sample that found Snyder had fostered a “culture of fear” within the organization. It also reported instances of “sexual harassment, bullying, and other toxic conduct” over the course of several decades.

In November, the organization announced that the Snyders had hired Bank of America Securities “to consider potential transactions,” the first indication that the beleaguered owner may finally consider selling the franchise.

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