Saturday, September 19, 2009

The season is underway

The football season is here -- this makes me happy, even though I consider my delight at watching big men beat each other up athletically as a slightly guilty pleasure.

Via Ta-Nehisi Coates I was delighted to learn that the Center for Responsive Politics has compiled the data on where NFL teams (meaning mostly their owners) invest their political money.

Yes -- political donations are an investment. My donations are in politicians and causes that I think will advance progressive policies. (I especially favor liberal Democratic primary challengers to Blue Dog obstructionists.) Football owners have their own priorities.

Interestingly, the NFL itself gives predominantly to Democrats. They spend nearly $1.5 million a year on lobbying. They've also created a new Gridiron PAC that has contributed $63,000 to 19 federal candidates in the last year -- two thirds of them Democrats, presumably friendly Congressional committee chairmen.

Among the owners, Alex Spanos of the San Diego Chargers is the heavy hitter, having given $2.4 million to candidates since 1990, four times what any other owner has kicked in. Ninety-eight percent of that went to Republicans.

No other team or owner is in Spanos' league as a political donor, but many give some contributions, largely to Republicans. I'm not surprised that owners largely give to the GOP -- rich guys stick together.

Interesting, President Obama's campaign dredged out a few prominent football donors. Dan Rooney of the family that owns the Pittsburgh Steelers actually campaigned for him during the Pennsylvania primary -- and in 2009 Rooney was named ambassador to Ireland. Lovie Smith, coach of the Chicago Bears also supported Obama; guess he's a homer. Peyton Manning proved a poor judge of political winners, supporting Fred Thompson; Andy Reid of the Eagles liked Mitt Romney. Oh well -- they know how to do their day jobs.

In the period between 1990 and the present for which the Center for Responsive Politics has data, a short list of teams gave over 60 percent of their political cash to Democrats. Probably most of these contributions reflect local political considerations, but nonetheless the list is interesting: Philadelphia Eagles, St Louis Rams, New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, Oakland Raiders, and, thank goodness, the San Francisco 49ers (84 percent to Democrats).

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