The Superbowl: A Militarized Spectacle Financed by Taxpayers While the NFL Pays No Taxes
February 5, 2015
Lori Price / Citizens for a Legitimate Government & Astrid Galvan / The Seattle Times & the Associated Press & Liz Peek / The Fiscal Times
Black Hawk helicopters and truck-sized X-ray machines that are typically deployed along the US-Mexico border were brought to the Super Bowl to assist with the security effort. Taypayers also paid the bill for the participation of the Department of Homeland Security; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; FBI; United States Secret Service – all of which dedicated their skill, technology and weapons to protecting an event that brings massive profits to the National Football League, a money-making organization that is, by law, exempt from paying federal income taxes!
Americans on Hook for Millions
Spent on Super Bowl's Over-the-top Security
While NFL Still Pays No Taxes
Lori Price / Citizens for a Legitimate Government
(January 31, 2015) -- Recently, we learned: 'Black Hawk helicopters and truck-sized X-ray machines that are typically deployed along the US-Mexico border have been brought to the Super Bowl venue to assist with the security effort.' Additionally: 'The NFL just issued a statement saying reps from the following agencies are on board: Department of Homeland Security; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; FBI; United States Secret Service; Phoenix PD and Glendale PD.'
And yet: 'NFL president Roger Goodell made $44 million last year, as head of a not-for-profit. That's right -- even though the NFL teams raked in about $9.5 billion in revenues last year, and the CEO of their industry association takes home one of the highest paychecks in the land, the sports league pays no taxes.'
Black Hawk Helicopters and X-ray Machines
Added to Super Bowl Security
Astrid Galvan / The Seattle Times & the Associated Press
GLENDALE, Ariz. (January 26k 2015) -- Black Hawk helicopters and truck-sized X-ray machines that are typically deployed along the US-Mexico border have been brought to the Super Bowl venue to assist with the security effort. US Customs and Border Protection showed off the technology Monday as it helps with Super Bowl security.
Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske was on hand for a demonstration of the agency's Black Hawks and large mobile X-ray machines that are used to detect contraband and explosives. The helicopters and X-ray machines are from Tucson and Nogales, some of the busiest spots in the nation for the smuggling of drugs and immigrants.
Kerlikowske said Arizona's border with Mexico still has adequate security while some equipment is used in Glendale for the Super Bowl. He said it's not just the technology that will help keep the big game safe, but the expertise behind it.
"The real key about this equipment is the people who operate them," said Kerlikowske, a former Seattle chief of police. The CBP is also deploying about 100 officers who will assist other federal and local law enforcement agencies.
The X-ray machines are mobile and the size of a large truck. They slowly pan outside a semi-truck while operators look for anomalies. The X-ray machines are in heavy use at the Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales, one of the busiest ports of entry for commerce in the country. Within a few minutes, the X-ray machines will have scanned an entire semi-trailer, looking for contraband and explosives.
The CBP also will use its Tucson-based helicopters and Black Hawks to monitor the air during the game, when other aircrafts are not allowed to fly nearby.
The Black Hawks are used by the CBP and the Border Patrol for a variety of missions, including for rescuing border crossers who become sick or injured. They've also recently been commonly used to arrest so-called scouts, or men who act as lookouts in the desert for drug and human smuggling organizations.
Forget Deflategate. Here's the Real NFL Scandal
Liz Peek / The Fiscal Times
(January 29, 2015) -- Football fans are unhappy with the cheating scandal that has roiled the Super Bowl. What should worry them more is this: NFL president Roger Goodell made $44 million last year, as head of a not-for-profit. You know -- a not-for-profit like the Salvation Army or the March of Dimes. That's right -- even though the NFL teams raked in about $9.5 billion in revenues last year, and the CEO of their industry association takes home one of the highest paychecks in the land, the sports league pays no taxes.
Not only is the NFL tax-exempt, so is an organization called the NFL Management Council that undertakes "labor negotiations on behalf of NFL Member Clubs." That's how screwed up our tax system is.
Half the diehard fans tuning in to Sunday's Super Bowl think the New England Patriots cheated. That's the news from a poll conducted by Public Policy Polling: 50% of NFL followers are convinced that Tom Brady's team intentionally deflated those famous footballs. Affection for the Pats has plummeted, with a majority of fans now rooting for the Seahawks.
The NFL has dragged its collective cleats, just like in the Ray Rice scandal, taking its time to interview the participants in the Pat's blow-out defeat of the Colts. As of today, officials had still failed to speak with rather pivotal figures such as, for example, QB Tom Brady, who was the obvious beneficiary of the "Deflategate" scandal.
As unhappy as football fans are with the cheating scandal -- they should be even angrier with the management of the NFL. A recent article in GQ magazine reported Goodell's out-sized compensation package at $44 million per year for seven years, which makes Goldman Sach's Lloyd Blankfein's $24 million take-home look downright measly by comparison.
Goodell's comp was determined by a three-owned committee including -- guess who? -- Patriots' owner Robert Kraft. Kraft and Goodell are known to be close buddies, raising questions about conflicts of interests; some suggested an aggressive inquiry into the deflated balls was unlikely, given that relationship. Goodell reportedly visited Kraft's home after the AFC Championship game with the Colts. Cozy.
Even more questionable, though, and more important to the country, is the NFL's tax-exempt status, which it claims as a 501c(6) organization. Eligible groups for that designation include: business leagues, chambers of commerce, real estate boards, board of trade and . . . professional football leagues.
As a not-for-profit, the NFL files a form 990 each year. For the 2013 fiscal year (ending March 2013), the NFL reported revenues of $327 million and a profit of just under $9 million. A public for-profit company with modest numbers like that would surely not be doling out tens of millions to its CEO. And, it's not just the CEO earning big bucks.
Several other officers are highly paid as well; all told, the NFL dishes out $60 million in compensation to its staff. Some 298 individuals earned $100,000 or more. Admittedly, it is the hefty revenues earned by the teams that also influences the money paid Goodell and his staff. Still, it is pay that is subsidized by taxpayers.
The NFL spent $1.2 million on lobbying in 2013; undoubtedly some of that money went to maintaining its tax-exempt status. (It states in its filing that the organization admits to some "uncertainty in income taxes.")
It also dished out more than one million in grants and gifts to organizations like $20,000 each to the National Association of Black Journalists, Big Brothers, Big Sisters of New York and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.
More curious is $639,000 given to the NFL Foundation for "Charitable Gifts -- Coach/Club Fines." Are taxpayers underwriting club fines?
Senator Tom Coburn's parting gift to voters upon his retirement last year was a scathing indictment of our tax system, called Tax Decoder. In it, he pillories many of our country's 165 tax giveaways, including the exemptions allowed the NFL. It wasn't his first salvo against the football franchise.
In 2012 he identified the handout in his annual Waste Book, and then in 2013 he proposed the PRO Sports Act, which would forbid any professional sports organization earning revenues above $10 million from filing as a nonprofit organization. His bill would have prevented not only the NFL, but also the PGA and the National Hockey League from receiving taxpayer assistance.
The bill failed to gain widespread support. "If you are in a state that has a pro football league or runs a pro golf tournament, the career politicians are afraid to touch it," Coburn said at the time. He also noted, "Tax earmarks are essentially tax increases for everyone who doesn't receive the benefit . . . In this case, working Americans are paying artificially high rates in order to subsidize special breaks for sports leagues. This is hardly fair."
That seems an understatement. Football's popularity is huge, and despite the controversies, more than one hundred million people will tune into this weekend's Super Bowl. Americans love the NFL -- but as questions about the league's governance pile up, they may get tired of helping to foot the bill. It's up to Congress to clean up our tax system.
Stay tuned sports fans.
Related: The 6 Most Scandalous NFL Arrests
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