Photo Credit: Daniel Padavona via Shutterstock.com
May 22, 2012
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When the New York Times dropped its bombshell last week disclosing a secret 54-page proposal outlining how a Republican Super PAC would spend $10 million attacking President Obama and painting him as some kind of “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln,” it wasn’t just interested Washington observers whose eyebrows were raised. The plan was apparently created and was to be funded by billionaire TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, whose family has owned a controlling interest in the Chicago Cubs since 2009. Within hours, Ricketts himself came out and rejected the plan that bore his name — in an obvious attempt to calm Chicago city leaders, who he’s hoping will shell out millions in public financing to renovate Wrigley Field.
It was far from the first time that scandal has reared its head in the highest echelons of sports ownership. Follow the connections closely enough and one will find dozens of franchise owners who have either direct of tangential relations to organized crime, government surveillance initiatives, deep-pocketed political entities and financial irregularities that bilked people out of billions. What horrible right-wing (or criminal) cause is your favorite team connected to?
Chicago Cubs are owned by Joe Ricketts, who apparently planned to pour $10 million into an anti-Obama super PAC,which would have developed a Jeremiah Wright ad campaign
Los Angeles Dodgers are co-owned by Magic Johnson, whose group bought the team from Frank McCourt, who bought the team from Fox Entertainment Group, which is run by Rupert Murdoch
New York Mets are owned by Fred Wilpon, who blindly invested with Bernie Madoff, who was convicted of running a $65 billion Ponzi scheme
San Diego Padres are owned by John Moores, who succeeded Tom Werner, who succeeded the wife of the late Ray Kroc, the man responsible for the global popularity of McDonald’s, which has helped contribute to unprecedented nationwide obesity
New York Jets are owned by Woody Johnson, who gave much financial support to the 2008 Republican National Convention, where there were hundreds of antiwar protesters arrested
Houston Texans are owned by Bob McNair, who gave $100,000 last year to the Make Us Great Again super PAC,which was formed to support Rick Perry’s presidential campaign
Chicago White Sox used to be owned by Charles Comiskey,whose cheapness led to the Black Sox scandal, which was influenced by Arnold Rothstein, who was notorious for orchestrating illegal gambling
Houston Astros are owned by Jim Crane, who was preceded by Drayton McLane Jr., who helped orchestrate a new stadium deal, which took millions in naming rights from Enron, which collapsed on account of billions of dollars in fraudulent accounting
Texas Rangers are co-owned by Nolan Ryan, who succeeded Tom Hicks, who bought the team from George W.
Erik Malinowski is night editor at Deadspin. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikMal