Taxpayers unwitting donors to athletes' charities
WASHINGTON — Several foundations run by athletes during the past decade received tens of millions of tax dollars through government grants or earmarks from members of Congress.
A Tribune-Review analysis found:
• $28.4 million in federal, state and local government aid for the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation's anti-crime programs and a ballpark in Maryland;
• Nearly $7.8 million went to two educational nonprofits of billionaire golfer Tiger Woods;
• About $6 million each went to former tennis star Andre Agassi's Las Vegas educational nonprofit and the cancer charity started by bicyclist Lance Armstrong;
• More than $500,000 went to the Mario Lemieux Foundation for hospital playrooms and a cancer awareness campaign.
The Ripken charity, founded in 2001 by former Baltimore Orioles infielders Cal Ripken Jr. and his brother, Billy, to honor their deceased dad, a former Major League Baseball manager, derived 45 percent of its revenue over nine years from taxpayers.
Most of the money that the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation received went to federal juvenile crime prevention programs — often without proof that the spending made a difference.
“We're going to do, every single day of the week, whatever it takes to help save these kids' lives,” said Steve Salem, president of the Ripken foundation and a former Washington-based lobbyist. “Nobody benefited from that federal money, for example, except the kids.”
Some lawmakers have a different view. Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican and former presidential candidate, spoke out on the House floor in 2007 against $1.5 million earmarked for the Ripkens' organization.
McCain warned fellow lawmakers that even when they mean well, “pork spending” on favored constituents “mortgages our children's future for our own political gain.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins’ Letang leaves hospital, ‘day-to-day’ with concussion
- Hit sends Penguins’ Letang to hospital
- Penguins minor league notebook: WBS players eager for possible NHL playoff call-up
- Penguins notebook: Johnston stays with team despite mother’s death
- Downie’s goal, fight spark Penguins to win over Coyotes
- Players respect coach, refuse to blame Johnston
- Penguins notebook: Malkin likely to return Saturday
- Penguins considering making roster changes for postseason
- Penguins notebook: Adams says fight was to counter Blues’ brutish tactics
- Penguins notebook: Staal insists he never asked for trade to Penguins
- Penguins’ protracted slump continues with 5-2 loss at Carolina