SBD/Issue 34/Law & Politics

NFL's Gridiron PAC Hands Out Almost $600k In First Election Cycle


The NFL's political action committee, Gridiron PAC, handed out "almost $600,000 in campaign cash in its rookie election cycle," and players like Colts QB Peyton Manning, Vikings QB Brett Favre, Bears DE Julius Peppers, Jets LB Jason Taylor and Saints LB Jonathan Vilma "made their own contributions on a smaller scale," according to Frederic Frommer of the AP. Gridiron PAC "gave overwhelmingly to incumbents," including U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), U.S. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). As of Sept. 30, the most recent filing of Federal Electoral Commission records, a "majority of the donations went to Democrats, reflecting the PAC's tilt toward those currently in power." Some donations "were more familial than strategic." Gridiron PAC "gave to two grandsons" of Steelers founder Art Rooney -- Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) and Brian Rooney, who lost a GOP congressional primary race in Michigan. Frommer noted NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the son of late U.S. Rep. and Sen. Charles Goodell, "has put a bigger emphasis on politics since becoming commissioner in 2006." Under his leadership, the league "established the PAC, which started making donations last year, and opened up a full-time Washington lobbying office." The NFL and MLB are the "only sports leagues to have PACs," although others like the NHL and NBA also "lobby Congress." The NFLPA "has also bulked up its Washington muscle" under Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith. NFLPA Assistant Exec Dir for External Affairs George Atallah said that players "have considered forming a PAC, but he doesn't think the union is at a disadvantage without one." Frommer noted "some head coaches made donations, too." Former NFLer Jon Runyan, a Republican congressional candidate in New Jersey, "picked up $1,200 from Eagles coach Andy Reid and $1,000 from Chargers coach Norv Turner" (AP, 10/27).

"A" FOR EFFORT: In Oakland, Cecily Burt reports A's Owner Lew Wolff "recently contributed $10,000" to Oakland mayoral candidate Don Perata, while A's investor John Fisher "contributed $15,000." Wolff "wants to move his team to San Jose, so maybe the contributions aren't surprising given recent published comments ... that Perata thinks the move is a done deal." But Wolff yesterday said that Perata's "stance on the A's and the team's future home had nothing to do with his decision to try to help him win the election." Wolff: "Whether we are staying or going, we feel Don would be a good mayor for Oakland" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 10/28).

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