Joe Ricketts at front in earmarks fight -
Published Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 7:30 am / Updated at 9:30 pm
Joe Ricketts at front in earmarks fight

WASHINGTON — One group helping fan the flames of national anti-earmark sentiment is Taxpayers Against Earmarks, started by Nebraskan Joe Ricketts, founder and former CEO of what is now TD Ameritrade.

“We did it!” the group’s website shouted in celebration after Senate Republicans adopted an earmark moratorium.

Ricketts’ group met with members of the House and Senate on the subject of earmarks and ran ads urging people to contact their elected officials about earmarks.

“We were among the groups that fought a good fight and won,” Brian Baker, the group’s president, told The World-Herald.

Through its Political Action Committee, the Ending Spending Fund, the group also targeted various earmark-seeking incumbents in the Nov. 2 election. The PAC funded independent advertisements highlighting earmarks.

The group spent $186,334 opposing Rep. John Spratt, D-S.C., chairman of the House Budget Committee, and $71,334 opposing Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Texas, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, according to Federal Election Commission records. Spratt and Edwards both lost their re-election bids.

The group also spent $29,900 in support of Rep. Walt Minnick, D-Idaho, who lost his race.

The political action committee spent its largest sum on the Nevada Senate race, shelling out $862,432 in an effort to defeat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Democrat Reid won re-election, though Baker said the group helped inject earmarks as a campaign topic.

At the same time Joe Ricketts’ group pushes to stamp out earmarks and reduce deficit spending at the federal level, the ballclub his family members own, the Chicago Cubs, have unveiled a proposal that would have the State of Illinois floating at least $200 million in bonds to support major renovations at Wrigley Field.

Although not a congressional earmark, the Cubs’ move has prompted questions about potential contradictions between what Joe Ricketts advocates and what some members of his family are seeking.

In a statement, Joe Ricketts said: “My son Tom is the chairman of the Chicago Cubs and together with his siblings on the Cubs’ board of directors, undertakes activities on behalf of the Cubs with our family’s complete support and blessing.”

Baker said Taxpayers Against Earmarks is focused on wasteful spending at the federal level and has nothing to do with state and local spending decisions.

“It’s sort of inaccurate to infer that the fight against earmarks and against this type of spending at the federal level relates at all to a state-level economic development project,” he said.

Cubs front man Tom Ricketts was asked on Chicago television station WTTW about the difference between the team’s proposal and the federal borrowing his father opposes.

“An earmark is obviously something that’s added to a federal bill that directs resources to a specific region or a specific district of a congressman that never sees the light of day and never has any type of public debate,” he said.

Contact the writer:


Contact the writer: Joseph Morton    |  

Joe is The World-Herald's Washington, D.C., bureau, covering national political developments that matter most to Midlanders.

Read more related stories
Oil industry ad campaign mocks Nebraska cowboys who protested Keystone XL pipeline
In Omaha, bus tour calls for hourly minimum wage over $10
Fremont police searching for missing 56-year-old man
Prosecutor: Baby might be alive if day care employer had spoken up
NRA seeks universal gun law at national meeting
Beau McCoy calls Pete Ricketts a 'convenient conservative' for immigration stance
Omaha senator seeks minimum wage ballot measure
Agreement reached to end dog racing at Bluffs Run at end of 2015
Police probe bank robbery
Man accused of trying to open flying plane's door pleads not guilty
Ben Sasse shifts tactics, calls ad by Shane Osborn 'hypocritical'
Forecast on the upswing after Thursday's rain
EB Harney Street lane closed
Ex-UNMC student loses appeal; claimed program didn't make accommodations for his depression
Grace: Your older self has a request — use sunscreen
At NU's helm, J.B. Milliken built the university by building relationships with state leaders
City's Personnel Board is behind ‘ban-the-box’ proposal
Kelly: Started at a dining room table, Home Instead thriving at 20 with $1B in annual revenue
Richard Paul Dreier, 90, was wounded in attack during WWII
Police issue arrest warrant in teen's shooting death
Kelly: Huskers' glory days of '80s live on — on the small screen and on stage
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Construction to start in May on West Broadway apartment/retail structure
3 Nebraska Board of Education candidates call for high standards
< >
Breaking Brad: 117-mph riding lawnmowers and 12-scoop banana splits
The Chicago White Sox are selling a 12-scoop banana split inside a full-size batting helmet for $17. You know what you'd call someone in Chicago who'd eat this? "Health nut."
Breaking Brad: Walmart beats Russia, stakes a claim on the moon
Russia is claiming it owns a section of the moon. If you follow the news, you know this probably doesn't end well.
Kelly: Started at a dining room table, Home Instead thriving at 20 with $1B in annual revenue
The idea that Paul Hogan had studied and then hatched at his mother's table was that older people, rather than moving in with relatives or to an assisted-living center, would much prefer to stay home instead.
Kelly: Huskers' glory days of '80s live on — on the small screen and on stage
The 1984 NFL draft was unusual for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, and these days it's remembered in the name of a rock band, the 1984 Draft. Tonight, the band is featured on the NFL Network.
Breaking Brad: Nebraska GOP candidates unified against naked squirrels
Some of these Nebraska campaigns are tilting pretty far right. At a recent forum, there was a consensus that we need to ban public dancing and clothe naked squirrels in public parks.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
7M Grill
Half Off Delicious Comfort Fusion Food & Drinks!
Buy Now
< >
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »