Meet the Billionaire Ricketts Family: Dad Plans Anti-Obama Attack While Gay Daughter Fundraises For President Obama.
You can read the entire attack for yourself but, in a nutshell, the so-called Ricketts Plan — leaked to the Times
in its sordid, juicy 54-page glory — attempts to align Obama with his
controversial ex-spiritual adviser Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The proposal
includes an aim to paint the President as a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln” by hiring an “extremely literate conservative African-American” as a mouthpiece.
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The ‘Ricketts’ in the plan’s name is Joe, founder of online
discount brokerage TD Ameritrade and patriarch of the billionaire family
who own the Chicago Cubs. They paid $845 million for a 95% interest in
the team, Wrigley Field and 20% of Comcast SportsNet Chicago in 2009.
Forbes’ SportsMoney team put the Cubs at #4 on our 2012 list
of most valuable MLB franchises, with both its revenues and overall
value increasing yearly. Joe’s son Tom Ricketts manages the team.
The New York Times referred to Joe himself as a billionaire,
but that isn’t strictly true — at least, not as of our last count for
the Forbes 400 in fall 2011. Technically, the Ricketts Family Education
Trust is the equity holder of the Cubs rather than Joe himself, so we
don’t count the team towards our valuation of Joe’s net worth. As a
result, he just missed the billionaire cut as TD Ameritrade’s stock was down.
Since then, though, the stock has rebounded slightly; Ricketts may
well be on the 2012 Forbes 400 list. He owns about 9.5% of the company,
with his wife Marlene holding another 2.5% of the shares. This is
splitting hairs in terms of the Ricketts family’s overall wealth, which
is certainly in the multi-billions.
Since the Times published its story on Thursday, Joe has
denied that the ‘Ricketts Plan’ in question would ever have come to
fruition. Brian Baker of the Ending Spending Action Fund, a Super PAC
Ricketts backs, sent the following statement to Forbes:
Joe Ricketts is a registered
independent, a fiscal conservative, and an outspoken critic of the Obama
Administration, but he is neither the author nor the funder of the
so-called “Ricketts Plan” to defeat Mr. Obama that The New York Times
wrote about this morning. Not only was this plan merely a proposal –
one of several submitted to the Ending Spending Action Fund by
third-party vendors – but it reflects an approach to politics that Mr.
Ricketts rejects and it was never a plan to be accepted but only a
suggestion for a direction to take.
Suggestion or not, the Times story highlights just how
divided the Ricketts family is in terms of politics. While Joe works to
defeat Obama, his only daughter has been raising funds for his
Laura Ricketts is one of President Obama’s bundlers,
or super-fundraisers, tapping her network of wealthy, influential
friends, colleagues and peers to raise an unlimited amount for his 2012
campaign. So far, the openly gay lawyer and mother has raised hundreds
of thousands of dollars for the cause. She is one of 27 high-profile gay
and lesbian ‘bundlers’ for Obama, according to investigative work by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Laura is a well-known figure in her adopted hometown of Chicago, both
for being the first openly lesbian owner of a major sports franchise
and for her work in pushing for marriage equality. She was, until
recently, a board member at Lambda Legal, the group responsible for
filing the initial suit that resulted in Iowa’s same-sex marriage win.
Laura told the Chicago Tribune in 2010
that after George W. Bush’s election in 2004, she knew she needed to
fight for equal rights: “People were talking about trying to change the
Constitution to discriminate against me. I just felt like I had to get
Since then, she’s been outspoken in the need to pursue marriage
equality nationwide. In fact, when she introduced the President at a
Washington, D.C. fundraiser in February, she said the event was being held “to show the president that the LGBT community stands strongly behind his re-election.”
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