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Skewing 'charity'

| Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, 9:05 p.m.

Government shouldn't feed multimillionaire athletes' arrogance — and squander tax dollars — by lavishing public money on their charities over deserving charities that lack superstars' name recognition and personal wealth.

Yet that's what federal and state officials have done in a dozen cases revealed by a Trib investigation. And that often leads athletes' charities to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on lobbyists that otherwise could go toward charitable endeavors.

In 2010, for example, tennis great Andre Agassi's Las Vegas educational foundation had $82.2 million — yet received taxpayer-funded solar panels and electric-car power ports, earmarked by tax-and-spend Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Since 2000, it also has received a staggering $64.3 million in other state and federal help — and earned a “dismal one-star rating” from watchdog Charity Navigator for its fundraising expenses and lack of independent oversight.

Between 2004 and 2008, two nonprofits founded by golfer Tiger Woods received about $7.8 million in public money. Pittsburgh native Dan Marino's Florida-based foundation has taken $1.6 million from government since 2006. And the list goes on.

Taxpayers' pain offsets whatever good these superstars' charities do with public money. And their enablers in government also hobble less glamorous charities' work by diverting attention and funding to the already rich and famous.

It's time for this practice to stop.

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