Meet Joe Ricketts: Billionaire has Millions to Smear Obama, Demands Massive Taxpayer Subsidy for Baseball Stadium

Josh Israel and Judd Legum
Think Progress / News Report
Published: Sunday 20 May 2012
Nevertheless, Ricketts’ spokesman confirmed his intention spend money attacking Obama through an organization he controls called “Ending Spending Political Action Fund.”
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This week, the New York Times reported that Joe Ricketts, a right-wing billionaire and founder of TD Ameritrade, is soliciting multi-million dollar ad proposals to attack President Obama. One such proposal, leaked to the paper, was a $10 million, racially-charged campaign entitled “The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: The Ricketts Plan to End his Spending for Good.” The proposal, which center on Rev. Jeremiah Wright, suggests hiring an “extremely literate conservative African-American” to break down Obama’s image as a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.”

Ricketts moved quickly to publicly reject the plan after it leaked. His spokesman said it “reflects an approach to politics that Mr. Ricketts rejects and it was never a plan to be accepted but only a suggestion.” (The statement seems somewhat disingenuous as the Ricketts had already given “preliminary approval” for the $10 million concept after seeing a separate ad about Jeremiah Wright.) Nevertheless, Ricketts’ spokesman confirmed his intention spend money attacking Obama through an organization he controls called “Ending Spending Political Action Fund.”

There is one area, however, where Ricketts is much more open to government spending. He’s seeking a massive government subsidy for the Chicago Cubs, which he owns with his family, to renovate Wrigley Field. Here is the deal the Ricketts family is seeking, via Crain’s Chicago Business:

That means $300 million is needed for the ballpark proper.

Half would come from the team, presumably in increased revenue from more signage inside Wrigley and retail and other entertainment in what amounts to a game-day carnival on Waveland Avenue on Wrigley’s north side and Sheffield Avenue to the east.

And half would come from $150 million or so in bonds to be retired with increased revenue from the existing city and Cook County amusement taxes on ticket sales. Specifically, debt service would get the first 6 percent in growth above a base level of around $15 million a year now.

But it’s a little more complicated than that.

The team also wants a 50 percent cut of any increase in amusement tax revenue growth above 6 percent. And unlike the bonds, which would be retired in 30 or 35 years, that would be forever.

So Joe Ricketts and his family not only want a $150 million subsidy directly from taxpayers but also a large chunk of tax revenue from the city in perpetuity. In other words, taxes from the City of Chicago would no longer go to roads, schools and police officers but also into Joe Ricketts pocket. Without this taxpayer welfare, the family will presumably let Cubs, which they acquired in a highly competitive bidding process in 2009, play in a stadium that is falling into disrepair.

Ricketts negotiating position seems completely at odds with his public stated political views. In a video posted by another organization he controls, Taxpayers Against Earmarks, Ricketts says “I think it’s a crime for our elected officials to borrow money today, to spend money today and push the repayment of that loan out into the future on people who are not even born yet.” Of course, that’s what he is attempting force the taxpayers of Chicago to do for the benefit of his team and his family.

At the same time, Joe Ricketts has plenty of disposable income available to attack Obama. A Ricketts spokesperson said future attacks on Obama would “be focused entirely on questions of fiscal policy.” Joe Ricketts, however, may want to focus on the fiscal policy of his baseball team. In 2011, the Cubs were “one of nine franchises in violation of MLB’s debt service rules.”



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14 comments on "Meet Joe Ricketts: Billionaire has Millions to Smear Obama, Demands Massive Taxpayer Subsidy for Baseball Stadium"

pitch1934

May 21, 2012 2:57pm

Screw you Joe!

mike morell

May 21, 2012 9:00am

Democrats were devastated in the 2010 elections. Pres Obama called it shellacking. We now know that the lopsided loss was the result of a propaganda blitzkrieg paid by ultra-righties like this guy. Many now realize they bought a pig in a poke: Repubs turned against the Middle Class and women with a vengeance: Thousands of bills against women's health and women's freedom nationwide. Laws limiting voting, destroying the unions, and creating a Police State rampant in many states. Mule kicks against students, but first and foremost: Tax Breaks for the Rich. None to create jobs. But no one can fool all the people all the time. Next election, the Silent Majority’s dumping ‘em to the unemployment line.

Greenwitch

May 20, 2012 11:13pm

What's so bad about being compared to Abraham Lincoln? He was one of our greatest presidents.

Brian Glennie

May 20, 2012 4:45pm

Ricketts must be a socialist if he expects the government to give public money to help his "Chicago Cubs" corporation.

dwdallam

May 20, 2012 2:12pm

He's not a hypocrite. Baseball's owners have been getting loans from taxpayers in memorial. It's the only way they could ever build a stadium becasue no one has enough money to fund a 300 million park. The state entity then taxes the park and makes its money back, plus interest.

He'd be a hypocrite if he wanted the money and didn't want the state to make anything back on it. But I'm a little more critical of "capitalism" when a necessary condition of its survival is state welfare. How about this: Let's get rid of taxes and you build your own fucking stadiums? See how long your capitalist ass would last then. And while we're at it, build your own god damn roads too, and maintain them. And put out your own fires. Or STFU.

I don't know how the 6% cap would be implemented because the author doesn't tell us: 6% increase per year, 6% above what it is now for as long as the loan is out, we don't know.

We also don't know how much money the state will make on those tax dollars over the course of the loan. We want a fair return on our investment, for sure. But unless we become hypocrites, we want that return to be fair to the owner also. We just don't know the facts here.

That doesn't mean Rickets isn't an idiot. He's obviously a bigot, socially ignorant, and a liar (he denied the plan existed until it was slapped in his face, to which he then said, "Oh that.").

So, he's a lying white bigot? I don't know what "black" or "white" has to d with it, but I just thought I'd think like Rickets and construct a sentence he might, but back to him. I mean "white bigot" is more motivational than simply "bigot."

This is an acute example of how making money has nothing to do with your intelligence other than your intelligence to manipulate money. (I'd be willing to bet that Rickets was born into plenty of money also.)

It's like the jungle alpha make syndrome: ME BIG MY RIGHT! Yep, you rule bro, and you're also stupid. That's a combination that has no good end. It's like giving children the frame of a 6'4" male with huge muscles. Bad, very bad.

Riconui

May 20, 2012 12:55pm

No, Joe, we can't give you a few hundred mil. because that would be welfare and welfare leads to the moral hazard of raised expectations that are without merit. Isn't that the exact same horror being visited on the likes of single mothers and the destitute in this nation by having the government supply them with food stamps or a modicum of health care for their children. MORAL HAZARDS. These are conservative arguments....YOUR ARGUMENTS JOE! So the answer is no. If you want to waste some real cash, why don't you put a decent baseball team on the field? I think it would enhance your revenues.

madeinhawaii

May 20, 2012 12:34pm

i got one. Hawaii is not and never was a state... Obama is not a U.S. citizen... prove me wrong show me a treaty of annexation. http://FreeHawaii.info

Lightning Joe

May 20, 2012 9:57pm

Most people won't get your "Hawaii is not a state" reference. They don't know that it was simply annexed from its Royal Family and SAID to be a state. So of course they can't acknowledge that Obama, born in Hawaii, OUGHT not to be president...

But he is, since we TREAT Hawaii as a state, and he WAS born there.

But do me a favor and keep this hot information on the down-low. Don't tell anyone, ESPECIALLY not Tea Baggers!

wonder6789

May 20, 2012 12:18pm

Kudos to the N.Y. Times and its mole for bringing this document out into the open for us all to see. It's good to see how fast it took (a few hours) for it to become a total embarassment for Ricketts and Romney.
Love the smell of GOP despair in the morning!
Obama 2012

madeinhawaii

May 20, 2012 12:34pm

i got one. Hawaii is not and never was a state... Obama is not a U.S. citizen... prove me wrong show me a treaty of annexation. http://FreeHawaii.info

BozoAdult

May 20, 2012 11:57am

The message must get out. Joe wants some corporate welfare!

Tom S

May 20, 2012 11:42am

Who's Spending is Ricketts seeking to 'end'? The Mayor's? The Governor's?

Surely, not Obama's?? Obama has only been able to Spend enough to pay the normal operating expenses of the US Government and to cover the 2 Un-Funded Wars and MediCare Part D coverage and the Interest payments on the $15+T National Debt that Reagan, Bush41 and Bush43 ran up with GOP profligate Spending.

O hasn't been able to "Spend" a new dime since Saving the 'Big Two' from the Devastation wrought by Wall St, that was created by Bush43 policies. He didn't even "Spend" anything there, but Invested, as both GM & Chrysler repaid the loans with Interest.

In other words, with one decision, Obama Saved AND Created more companies and Saved and Created more JOBS than Romney did in his entire Vulture Capitalism career - and made most Profit for the US Treasury in History.

Now, IF the Luddite cracked teapots could learn some Macro Econ 101 and agree to Invest some Money in the US Economy, Obama could show Ricketts how Real Wealth is Created.

The Republicans only want to suck the rest of the blood out of the 99.5%!

jussmartenuf's picture
jussmartenuf

May 20, 2012 11:30am

Dear Joe Ricketts,
You are a typical hypocritical conservative. You want to reduce government and yet have government give you a handout. Do you also think that children who receive a free meal at school are welfare bums while you plead for public welfare for your baseball team? You and your kind are of the most contemptible order.

Jeffrey Hill

May 20, 2012 10:42am

Wall Street hedge fund billionaire ultraconservative Joe Ricketts wouldn't dream of spending any of his money to renovate the baseball stadium he owns, Wringley Field, when he can put the squeeze on the taxpayers and bribe politicians to do it for him and cough up $300,000,000.00 in corporate welfare.

The corporate bum billionmaire Joe Ricketts wouldn't give a "Thank You." to Chicago if they paid for the renovations either -- he would claim he did it all to benefit the city.