71014_moneyhappiness_vl-verticalThe “story”: In 2012, the Chicago Cubs organization gave more in political contributions than any other team in MLB. Indeed, the Cubs’ $13.9 million in contributions were $4 million more than the other 29 MLB teams combined.

Holy smokes, that’s a story. Who are the Cubs giving so much money to? Why are they doing it? Is it related to the renovation of Wrigley Field? Is it dirty? It must be dirty/sexy/intriguing if the Cubs gave so much more money than the other teams!

The Washington Post sums it up: “[W]e were captivated by just how much money the Chicago Cubs organization donated to (mostly) conservative causes during the 2012 election. The Cubs organization dropped $13.9 million on the campaign; that’s roughly $4 million more than the other all of the donations made by the other 29 teams combined. (And, yes, we appreciate the irony of the Cubs dumping millions on conservative efforts in the hometown of the Democratic president and the city whose current mayor of former chief of staff to President Obama.)”


Except the reality is much less sexy/dirty/intriguing. A “study” by the Sunlight Foundation looked at political contributions in 2012 for all 30 MLB organizations … any every person even remotely and tangentially connected to the organization. Why was the “Chicago Cubs” total so high? Because Ricketts Family patriarch Joe Ricketts is a hugely rich, hugely politically-active dude who gives a ton of money to conservative candidates and causes (about $12 million of that $13.9 million in 2012). Which has exactly nothing to do with the “Chicago Cubs.”

The Ricketts children purchased the team using funds in a family trust established for their benefit, and the Ricketts children, exclusively, run the organization. Joe Ricketts has no involvement in the operation of the Chicago Cubs, and even calling him an “owner” is relatively debatable.

You’ll be interested to note that political contributions attributable to “the Chicago Cubs organization” were also made by former Cubs players Sammy Sosa, Todd Wellemeyer and Randy Wells.

As an organization, according to the study, the actual Chicago Cubs organization made a whopping $408 in political contributions in 2012. Given their current renovation situation, they probably should have made more.

The study is already buzzing around the ‘net, portraying the “Chicago Cubs organization” as a massively political instrument. That may or may not be true, but this study certainly doesn’t demonstrate it.

  • http://gapersblock.com/tailgate Chad R

    My thoughts EXACTLY. It’s not like these owners are writing checks with team logos on them.

  • http://www.justinjabs.com/blog/ justinjabs

    “Joe Ricketts has no involvement in the operation of the Chicago Cubs, and even calling him an “owner” is relatively debatable.”

    This needs to be repeated more often. Joe can do whatever he want but I hate when people discuss him and his actions like he’s right at the table with Tom, Laura and Todd.

    The fact that the study stretches to Randy Wells … I can understand what they were looking at, but it seems to be just an interesting article that is going to end up misleading some people. Thanks for trying to dispell it early.

  • http://Ehanauer.com Clark Addison

    They should have spent the 14 million buying out Marmol’s contract.

    • Maximum Terror (aka: Carlos Marmol)

      Hey…I’m trying my best!

  • CubFan Paul

    “The Ricketts children purchased the team using funds in a family trust established for their benefit, and the Ricketts children, exclusively, run the organization. Joe Ricketts has no involvement in the operation of the Chicago Cubs”

  • Fishin Phil

    Never let the facts stand in the way of a good story.

    • DarthHater

      Or a good rant. But a lame rant? Well . . . 😉

  • al

    It is my memory that Joe Ricketts was tangibly involved with the purchase of the Cubs in some fashion and the Washington Post story was entirely fair to Ricketts and the Cubs.

    • hansman1982

      Then your memory is faulty. Don’t worry, happens to everyone.

  • Stu

    All part of “building it the right way”. I guess daddy Joe gave his kids a baseball team to amuse themselves with.

    What people need to realize is that these people are different. They are in a different club and will never be like you or I. Don’t EVER be fooled into thinking they will relate to you or allow you access to their club.

    Enjoy as much inexpensive Cubs baseball entertainment and minimize feeding the beast.

  • bobo justis

    I’m involved right now in a business that is vertically integrating through acquisition. All of the investment to support the acquisitions comes from a person who only wants a return on his investment that is substantial enough to fund his philanthropy. In other words, he wants to make a profit so he can fund his charitable giving and at the same time enjoy the tax benefits. His charitable giving is religious, not political, but it has nothing to do with the business. The business is just a vehicle for generating income in an economic environment where cash has negative value. (Interest rates on cash don’t exceed the effect of inflation.)

    Crazy Old Joe supplied the money for the Cubs purchase so that he would have access to some of the income. I might think he has crackpot political beliefs, but I can’t find fault with the arrangement. If he put up some of the investment he should derive some of the benefit.

  • Silly Rabbit

    Joe Ricketts bought the team . Joe Ricketts set up the family trust Joe Ricketts lets his family run team and in turn they hire people to make the team profitable.

  • Hack Wilson

    Am I correct is saying that City Hall is not really involved in holding up Wrigley renovations, but rather the NIMBY Wrigleyville residents? I’m all for dropping the restrictions regarding Wrigley Field. This park has greatly improved land values for the area, so if residents are unhappy, they should look elsewhere to live. The ball park was there before the area was even called Wrigleyville.

    At the same time, since Joe has all this money, I would be opposed to any public funds going into ball park improvements. Joe has the dollars and he certainly should be opposed to corporate welfare.

  • Cubbie Blues

    I’m just going to chill out and have a sandwich.

    • Fishin Phil

      What a great idea!! Me too.

      • Bric

        Exactly. More drama- just what we need…

  • http://ehanauer.com clark addison

    In a city that’s been run by Democrats for the past 8 years, Ricketts gave tons of money to Republicans. Then he expected the city to pay for improvements to his kids’ playpen. Which planet was he coming from?

    • Blublud

      That’s the problem, politics should not involved here. This is business. These people need to drop their stupid political labels and get something done, one way or another.

      • DarthHater


  • Brian

    Out of the other 29 teams, how much money did the Blue Jays donate to the great american political machine!?

    • TWC

      Did you click on the link that Ace put in the article?

      If you had, you’d see the answer is zero. But that’s because it’s illegal for non-American entities to contribute to political campaigns.

  • http://ehanauer.com clark addison

    Oops, I meant 85 years.

    • DarthHater

      I was wondering what I had missed. 😉

  • itzscott

    Regardless of how we feel about Ricketts’ political contributions, I’m certain it doesn’t sit well with a hugely Democratic city administration and you can bet that because of this, the city isn’t going to make it easy or bend over backward to accommodate the Cubs’ wishes.

    I’d love to know how much “daddy” gave to things like Cancer Research and other charitable organizations where his money would be better used for the good of mankind than trying to influence his personal political philosophies.

    To me, he’s coming off more and more like an angry old man who has everything he can ever desire along with a loving & wonderful family and health yet still cannot manage to find happiness. His warped mind is his only enemy.

    • JJ

      Tunney is not fighting his fight because Joe Ricketts gives money to conservative political causes. The mayor is not staying silent for that reason either, but because he’s got other political issues to deal with and does not need a fight with a locally powerful alderman. Even if that were true, shouldn’t the problem be the city officials — not the individual who decides to advance his personal causes despite harsh government response that limits his profit? (That, of course, assumes that Joe Ricketts has anything to do with the Cubs operations, which he does not.)

      As for Joe Ricketts, ugh, yep he gives to conservative candidates and PACs, just like many wealthy people who give to democrats. He believes that his causes are for the “good of mankind”, the same as his chartiable endeavors (some of which can be identified through the internet).

  • spencer

    Brett if Tom Ricketts and his siblings are children than am I infant at 20?

    • TWC

      Well, I’d certainly agree with the latter half of your comment.

      • hansman1982

        The first part is interesting. If you are always someone’s child, then when do you stop being a child?

        The answer must not be “before 20”.

  • Maximum Terror (aka: Carlos Marmol)

    “Sign all the Politicians”