Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake is pressing the Department of Defense and the National Guard on millions of taxpayer dollars going to professional sports teams to salute the military.
Fourteen NFL teams were paid $5.4 million from 2011 to 2014 as part of a Department of Defense program, NJ.com reported last week. (RELATED: New York Jets Gets $115,000 From New Jersey National Guard)
“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 wrote Monday in a letter to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and General Frank Grass, head of the National Guard.
Flake has asked for the names and dollar amounts other professional sports teams have been paid honor the troops.
“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,” he continued. “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.”
The 14 NFL teams that received federal funds to honor the troops between 2011 and 2014 are:
- Atlanta Falcons – $1.05 million
- Baltimore Ravens – $884,500
- Buffalo Bills – $679,000
- Indianapolis Colts – $620,000
- Minnesota Vikings – $605,000
- Green Bay Packers – $600,000
- New York Jets – $377,500
- Kansas City Chiefs – $250,000
- Cincinnati Bengals – $138,960
- Dallas Cowboys – $62,500
- Louis Rams – $60,000
- Pittsburgh Steelers – $36,000
- Cleveland Browns – $22,500
- Miami Dolphins – $20,000
National Guard spokesman Patrick Daugherty told NJ.com that the grant to the Jets helps promote military service.
“Promoting and increasing the public’s understanding and appreciation of military service in the New Jersey Army National Guard increases the propensity for service in our ranks and garners public support for our Hometown Team,” Daugherty said.