A top House Democrat who helped lead a congressional investigation into the NFL’s Washington Commanders is facing an ethics complaint after agreeing to fundraise with two lobbyists involved in a campaign to oust team owner Dan Snyder.
The American Accountability Foundation says Rep. Raja Krishnamurthy, D-Ill., may have violated House ethics rules by agreeing to attend a May fundraiser hosted by lobbying duo Mike and Tom Manatos.
The brothers have a long history of opposing Snyder, with Tom Manatos even running a website dedicated to pushing negative content about the team owner.
“It is clear that Representative Krishnamurthy, members of his staff, and possibly others, violated House ethics rules and federal bribery law by using the Oversight Committee’s authority to investigate and permanently damage — and agree to accept — campaign donations. A calling team,” said Tom Jones, president of the American Accountability Foundation.
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The organization sent a formal letter to the House Ethics Committee on Friday asking for an investigation into the conduct of members of Congress. In it, the government watchdog argued that Krishnamurthy not only violated House ethics rules, but also federal bribery laws.
Neither Krishnamurthy nor the Manatos brothers responded to requests for comment on this story.
As a senior member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Krishnamurthy played a leading role in investigating Snyder and the commanders. House ethics rules prohibit members from accepting gifts or campaign contributions if they are directly linked to official legislative business.
Commander’s owner Dan Snyder began testifying before a congressional committee
Mike Manatos initially pitched the fundraiser in an email to attendees as an opportunity to discuss the ongoing investigation into the team with Krishnamurthy.
“Someone in Washington found a way to get rid of Snyder [as the team’s owner] My good friend and House Oversight Subcommittee Chairman, Congressman Raja Krishnamurthy,” wrote Mike Manatos. “Tom and I hope you can join us on May 10 as a small group meets with Raja to discuss Raja’s efforts.”
The timing of fundraising is complicated. A few weeks earlier, Krishnamurthy sent a 20-page letter to the Federal Trade Commission demanding an investigation into allegations that the Washington football franchise skimmed season ticket holders and the National Football League.
Krishnamurthy, who chairs the Oversight Panel’s subcommittee on economy and consumer policy, said he was not aware of the overture on his behalf. The congressman canceled the fundraiser shortly before it was scheduled to take place.
However, questions remain over the nature of the fundraising and Krishnamurthy’s involvement.
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An invitation sent along with Manatos’ email, reviewed by Fox News Digital, lists two people with Strathdee Group as points of contact for RSVPs to the event. Federal Election Commission records show Krishnamurthy pays the firm $5,000 a month for fundraising consulting.
The American Accountability Foundation says the conflict of interest is clear and warrants further investigation.
“The language in the invitation that linked the fundraiser to Rep. Krishnamurthy’s role in the team’s investigation is evidence of a corrupt quid pro quo to damage the team and its leadership,” Jones said. “By canceling the event, Representative Krishnamurthy not only bares his conscience but also underlines the extent of violation of House and federal laws.”
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House Democrats began investigating Commanders and Snyder last fall, again protesting the NFL’s failure to release a written report of its investigation into the team’s office. As part of the committee’s investigation, House Democrats received hundreds of thousands of documents from the league and the team.
Snyder was also accused of sexual misconduct when a former employee told members of Congress that the billionaire touched her thigh inappropriately at a work dinner. Snyder has vehemently denied the claims. The NFL is conducting a separate investigation into the matter.
As part of the investigation, Snyder testified before the oversight committee for 11 hours this week.