On Thursday, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine filed a lawsuit against the Commanders for allegedly withholding security deposits from season-ticket holders. The team has responded.
And, like virtually anyone who is ever sued for anything, the Commanders are not saying, “Yep, we did it.”
“The team has not accepted security deposits for over 20 years in the case of premium tickets and over a decade in the case of suites, and we began returning them to season ticket holders as early as 2004,” a team spokesperson said. “In 2014, as part of a comprehensive review, team management was instructed to send notices to over 1,400 customers with deposits and return all security deposits requested.
“Further, the team engaged an outside law firm and forensic auditors to conduct an extensive review of the team’s accounts, which found no evidence that the team intentionally withheld security deposits that should have been returned to customers or that the team improperly converted any unclaimed deposits to revenue.”
Something doesn’t add up. If this was all taken care of in 2014, why were letters recently sent in an effort to distribute refunds? Also, the use of the term “requested” implies that the team only provided refunds when refunds affirmatively were requested.
Also, the issue isn’t intentional withholding. It’s whether the team intentionally (or perhaps negligently) failed to take appropriate steps to pay the money back.
Finally, we don’t put much stock in the opinion of an “outside law firm and forensic auditors” hired by the team. Those folks tend to find a way to tell their client whatever they think their client wants to hear.
We have a feeling this one is just getting started. Civil lawsuits are possible. Other attorneys general possibly will take action. Federal prosecutors could poke around, too.
Regardless, it just feels like there’s an issue here. People pay money. They forget they paid it. The party that received it nonchalantly takes no action. It’s tempting, and it’s easy.
Whether or not that actually happened remains to be seen.