GOP senator presses DOD on sports promotions

Greg Nash

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is demanding answers from the Defense Department following reports that the Pentagon spent $5.4 million in federal funds to 14 NFL teams from 2011 to 2014 to honor service members during games.

“It is troubling to learn that taxpayer funds are being used to compensate these teams for honoring and recognizing U.S. military service members,” Flake said Monday to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Chief of the National Guard Bureau Gen. Frank Grass.

{mosads}A report last week by found that the Department of Defense paid the Atlanta Falcons more than $1 million during those three years, around $885,000 to the Baltimore Ravens and just under $378,000 to the New York Jets, most of which came from the New Jersey National Guard.

“While it may be appropriate for the National Guard or other service branches to spend taxpayer funds on activities directly related to recruiting, giving taxpayer funds to professional sports teams for activities that are portrayed to the public as paying homage to U.S. military personnel would seem inappropriate,” Flake said.

“Such promotions conjure up feelings of patriotism and pride for most sports fans, and the revelation that these are in fact paid arrangements is disappointing,” he added.

Flake said an investigation by his office uncovered a number of advertising and promotion contracts between the Pentagon and professional sports teams in the MLB, NBA, NASCAR, Major League Soccer and the NCAA.

He asked Carter and Grass for a variety of information, including the total amount spent on paid interactions with service members at professional and collegiate events, the number of paid salutes for honoring military members, and any data that “indicates the effectiveness in recruitment efforts of service member recognition events with sporting organizations for which the sporting organizations are paid by service branches.”

Tags Jeff Flake

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