Ex NFL cheerleader photos are causing controversy after House Republicans included them in a memo and lawyers for the cheerleaders said they are “sexualized.”
The letter, first obtained by NBC News, was sent by lawyers for the cheerleaders to James Comer, ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform for the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington D.C.
Read the letter here.
According to NBC News, the GOP report was issued on December 7, 2022, before a Democratic-led committee report criticizing the team’s work culture. NBC News reported that the GOP report “put black boxes over the women’s faces and some body parts.”
The lengthy Democratic report, which you can read here, says, “Dozens of employees at the Commanders were harmed by a toxic work culture for more than two decades. The Team’s owner permitted and participated in this troubling conduct.” You can find House memos and reports here.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Letter Says the Photos ‘Show Women’s Breasts’ & Private Parts
The lawyers’ letter says the GOP “gratuitously and inexplicably” added the photos into a December 7, 2022, memorandum.
“While we acknowledge the authority of Republican members to release a memorandum in response to the Committee’s final report of its investigation into the Washington Commanders’ toxic workplace culture, we strongly object to the sexualized and salacious photographs that the GOP gratuitously and inexplicably appended to its December 7, 2022 memorandum,” they wrote.
The letter says the photographs “show women’s breasts, buttocks and genital areas,” and says they were “apparently disseminated to advance team owner Daniel Snyder’s persistent but discredited narrative that Bruce Allen, and not Mr. Snyder, was responsible for the sexually hostile and misogynistic team culture.”
The Lawyers Represent More Than 40 Former Washington Commanders Employees
The lawyers, Lisa J. Banks and Debra S. Katz, wrote that they represent “more than 40 former Washington Commander employees, six of whom testified on February 3, 2022, before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and many others who over the past year met with Committee members and staff of both parties, and testified in connection with the Committee’s investigation into the Washington Commanders’ toxic workplace culture and the NFL’s languid response and cover up of this scandal.”
It appears that “some of our clients are represented in these photographs, which depict numerous cheerleaders from the Commanders and other NFL teams, along with other unidentifiable women,” they wrote.
“Our clients are both humiliated and incensed by the GOP’s reckless dissemination of these photographs in an official Congressional document. They also feel retaliated against by Republican Committee members who have apparently chosen to embarrass them publicly for coming forward,” they wrote.
“There was simply no legitimate reason for GOP members to have done this, and it has caused our clients additional and unnecessary pain. Our clients believe that releasing these photos was a desperate effort to protect Mr. Snyder from the scathing findings contained in the Commmittee’s final report, at their expense.”
The Lawyers Say Distributing the Photos Would Cause ‘Sexual Exploitation’
The lawyers said disseminating the pictures would amount to sexual exploitation of the cheerleaders.
“We must also note that if Republican Committee members truly believed that Mr. Allen’s distribution of these emails and images – which your memorandum describes as ‘incredibly offensive’ – proves that it was he who created the sexually hostile work environment at the team, why would they think it appropriate to disseminate these sexualized images even more broadly in an office Congressional document?” they wrote.
The lawyers continued:
Obviously these photographs could have been referenced in the memorandum but not attached. Rather than show consideration to the many women who came forward to the Committee to share their experiences of objectification and sexual exploitation while employed by the team, Republican members of the Committee chose to subject them to more of the same.
We demand that these photographs – which have no place in an official Committee document – be removed at once from Congressional servers, websites, and if applicable, the Congressional record. Our clients also want assurances these photographs will never be used in such a manner again.