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Barbara Boxer Blasts NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's News Conference in New Letter (Video)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Barbara Boxer is making a personal appeal to the new National Football League executive in charge of government affairs, calling for more action to address domestic violence.  

In the letter, the California Democrat notes past work by Cynthia Hogan, the NFL's new senior vice president of public policy and government affairs and previous senior aide to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., but it's sharply critical of Hogan's new boss, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.  

"I listened with great interest to Mr. Goodell's press conference and was concerned about two glaring omissions that I wanted to write to you about today. First, I never heard Mr. Goodell mention 'zero tolerance' for violence against women. Last week, 16 women in the United States Senate wrote to Mr. Goodell and asked that he institute a zero-tolerance policy for domestic violence in the NFL," Boxer wrote. "Mr. Goodell talked about a process to change the NFL's policies regarding domestic violence, but he never mentioned zero tolerance as a goal or guiding principle. You need to have zero tolerance as a stated goal in order to have policies that achieve it."  

Boxer's criticism is a further sign that Goodell's press conference last week did not satisfy those on Capitol Hill. It followed a similar letter she sent to Goodell along with 15 other female senators from both sides of the aisle seeking a "zero tolerance" policy. Boxer's letter also pointed to the well-established fact that many incidents of violence against women are never even reported to law enforcement.  

"Mr. Goodell referred often to the role of law enforcement and our overall judicial system. However, as you know, most of these incidents are never reported to law enforcement," Boxer wrote. "It is therefore imperative that the NFL make a real commitment to prevent domestic violence in its ranks, encourage victims to come forward, and punish all those responsible, regardless of the level of involvement by law enforcement officials."  

Boxer's effort is just one of several approaches that lawmakers are using to send the message to the NFL.  

The full text of the letter appears below:

Dear Cynthia: I well remember the days when we worked together on the first Violence Against Women Act and I know how hard you have worked throughout your entire career to combat domestic violence. I was heartened to hear that you will be starting your job with the National Football League today and that you will be there to help the NFL change its domestic violence policies. You arrive at this job at a pivotal moment in history, and have the chance to make lasting and lifesaving changes in the days and months ahead. As you well know, more than 1 in 3 women and more than 1 in 4 men in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. I listened with great interest to Mr. Goodell's press conference and was concerned about two glaring omissions that I wanted to write to you about today. First, I never heard Mr. Goodell mention "zero tolerance" for violence against women. Last week, 16 women in the United States Senate wrote to Mr. Goodell and asked that he institute a zero-tolerance policy for domestic violence in the NFL. Mr. Goodell talked about a process to change the NFL's policies regarding domestic violence, but he never mentioned zero tolerance as a goal or guiding principle. You need to have zero tolerance as a stated goal in order to have policies that achieve it. Second, Mr. Goodell referred often to the role of law enforcement and our overall judicial system. However, as you know, most of these incidents are never reported to law enforcement. It is therefore imperative that the NFL make a real commitment to prevent domestic violence in its ranks, encourage victims to come forward, and punish all those responsible, regardless of the level of involvement by law enforcement officials. I look forward to hearing back from you and to working together again to combat violence against women in the NFL and throughout our society. Sincerely, Barbara Boxer United States Senator
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