Carol Felsenthal
On politics

Joe Ricketts, His Children, and Their Political Ties

Good thing President Obama is a White Sox fan. This morning’s New York Times carries a front-page story about Omaha billionaire and TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, whose money bought his family the Cubs in 2009, allegedly funding a new advertising campaign aimed at defeating Obama…

Tom Ricketts gets a hug from his parents Joe and Marlene Ricketts after a press conference after closing the transaction to acquire a 95 percent controlling interest in the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field and 25 percent of Comcast Sportsnet on Friday, October 30, 2009.
Tom Ricketts gets a hug from his parents Joe and Marlene Ricketts after a press conference to announce the family’s acquisition of the Chicago Cubs on Friday, October 30, 2009.
 

Good thing President Obama is a White Sox fan.

This morning’s New York Times carries a front-page story about Omaha billionaire and TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, whose money bought his family the Cubs in 2009, allegedly funding a new advertising campaign aimed at defeating Obama. 

The evidence is a proposal, leaked to the Times reporters, for a bold advertising campaign, to be funded to the tune of $10 million by Joe Ricketts’s Super PAC, Ending Spending Action Fund. The proposal titled, “The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: The Ricketts Plan to End His Spending for Good,” for ads on TV, print, and elsewhere, would have tied Obama to his controversial and estranged pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, coincidentally back in the headlines on the publication of a new Obama-bashing biography.

Within hours, Ricketts, 70, distanced himself from the proposal. A spokesman for his PAC said that Ricketts was always was about exposing Obama’s faults on the fiscal front, “not attacks that seek to divide us socially or culturally.”

Ricketts’ four children—three sons and one daughter—are all owners and members of the Cubs’ board of directors and involved, in varying degrees, with running the team. The first-born son, Pete, who lives in Omaha, is a member of the RNC from Nebraska and a failed Republican nominee in the 2006 senate race there. He seems most closely to share his father’s politics. The other sons, both Chicago-area residents, are Tom, Chairman of the Cubs, and Todd.

The only girl in the family, third-born Laura, a Chicagoan who is openly gay, is no conservative. She is one of Obama’s biggest bundlers—$500,000—and she and her partner are proponents of gay marriage. She has been a board member of the Lambda Legal gay rights group. A new mom, she has told the Windy City Times’s Tracy Baim that her family has been totally accepting of her sexuality. “For Laura,” Baim wrote, “coming out to her family as a Democrat may have been more difficult than coming out as a lesbian.”

Recently, I noticed that Joe Ricketts had played a key role in a Republican primary for the U.S. Senate in Nebraska. His candidate, state senator Deb Fischer, a little known rancher, was running third until a last-minute surge—helped along by the endorsement of Sarah Palin and by $200,000 worth of TV ads (compliments of Joe Ricketts)—upset her male, more establishment opponents, a state attorney general and a state treasurer. So now it’s Fischer who will go up against former Nebraska Senator and Governor Democrat Bob Kerrey. The fact that the Nebraska seat, now held by retiring Democrat Ben Nelson, is one the GOP believes it can win on their way to taking over the Senate, coupled with Kerrey’s celebrity status, means this race will get national attention and shine the spotlight on the Ricketts patriarch. Joe, who is also the founder and CEO of DNAinfo.com, a new hyper-local news venture (launching soon in Chicago), remains focused on defeating Democrats, electing Republicans, slashing the deficit, and stopping the spending.

All four Ricketts children, who grew up in Omaha, have attended the University of Chicago—either its college and/or graduate school. The university, not the Cubs, is their first Chicago tie. 

 

Photograph: Chicago Tribune

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2 years ago
Posted by Cub Fan Obama supporter

Thanks for that important information Carol!!! I just heard about the Cub's owners' ties to the Republicans and their Obama hating!

2 years ago
Posted by PB

The real story is the hypocrisy of perhaps the country's leading advocate for cutting government spending (Ending Spending Action Fund)coming hat in hand for a handout from the bankrupt City and State which are cutting education, healthcare and almost every other essential government service. Apparently it's OK for government to spend to enrich billionaires despite the lack of any benefit to the City. (If Wrigley Field needs renovation and the City doesn't ante up, the Ricketts will spend their own money to do the renovation because it makes sense for them).

The story also misses the viciously racist and homophomic aspects of the proposed campaign, so blatant that the plan contains provisions for countering the expected critcism.

2 years ago
Posted by howard6117

In light of this news, I compared the roster list of the Cubs to the rest of the league and the Cubs do seem to be pretty pale

2 years ago
Posted by SKEPTICAL

PB, you confuse me. Which plan are you referring to?

2 years ago
Posted by Carol Felsenthal

Just discovered this about Joe Ricketts:

According to story in Washington Post, Joe Ricketts' Super PAC is also supporting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in next month's recall election. http://wapo.st/LjrqfA

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