Election Day 2022: NFL Gridiron PAC backs Marco Rubio, Mitch McConnell – USA TODAY

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is no stranger to the rat race of Washington. The son of former New York senator Charles Ellsworth Goodell Jr., he has taken multiple actions to keep the league and Washington connected, including helping start a political action committee, the Gridiron PAC, in 2008.
The committee’s mandate is to give exclusively to federal incumbent officeholders — not governors, open seats or presidential candidates, according to NFL spokesman Tim Schlittner.
A USA TODAY Sports review of Federal Election Commission filings ahead of Tuesday’s midterms revealed Gridiron PAC spent $729,210.03, mostly on contributions to members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
Those contributions were split 58.54% to Republicans and 41.46% to Democrats, according to nonpartisan watchdog group Open Secrets.
Here’s what we know about the NFL’s Gridiron PAC for the 2022 election cycle.
Follow every game: Live NFL Scores
LIVE UPDATES: Election 2022: Watchdog groups report routine problems; Trump says he voted for DeSantis
MORE: ‘We have to stick with it’: NFL urges people to go to polls
The majority of funds were raised by a series of maximum $5,000 donations given by NFL executives, owners and their family members. For the current two-year cycle, 2021-22, contributions totaled $814,983.28, according to FEC filings.
During that time, 22 of 32 NFL teams are represented as PAC donors. And some of those teams gave more than others.
Here are some top contributors for this election cycle:
It can be difficult to pinpoint how much a team donated without sifting through the filings because contributions come from individuals, including spouses, children and siblings of owners. High-level executives with different last names also contribute. For example, the Browns contributions included Dee and Jimmy Haslam’s daughters, Cynthia Arnholt and Whitney Haslam-Johnson, along with their respective spouses, David Arnholt and Browns EVP James W. Johnson.
USA TODAY Sports couldn’t locate in FEC filings for this election cycle donor representation from the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Las Vegas Raiders, New Orleans Saints, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, New York Jets and Washington Commanders. 
FAILED INITIATIVE:California will vote ‘no’ for online sports betting, latest polls show
RELATED:How NFL Votes reached 160 million people with voting campaign ahead of Election Day
OPINION:Herschel Walker is in tight U.S. Senate race. Former teammates did not see this coming.
The NFL’s government affairs agenda includes a variety of causes, from stadium security to infrastructure, according to Schlittner.
He said the league focuses its donations on leadership, key committees — Finance, Ways & Means, Energy & Commerce, Judiciary — and House and Senate members with stadiums or practice facilities in their areas.
“At the moment, we are working with Congress to keep our stadiums safe from unauthorized drones and to improve the (Homeland Security) SAFETY Act,” Schlittner said, adding the NFL decides where the money goes “with strong input” from owners and the PAC board.
The Gridiron PAC is bipartisan, though contributions to Republican outweighed Democrats this election cycle. In 2019-20, spending was split 50/50 between the parties, according to data from Open Secrets.
The NFL gave equally, $15,000 per year, to the Democratic Senatorial and Congressional Campaign Committees and the National Republican Senatorial and Congressional Committees. However, it also donated $3,500 this cycle to the Buckeye Victory Fund, a PAC that funds the NRCC.
Individual politicians who’ve received funds from Gridiron PAC this election cycle include some of the most lightning-rod legislators in the nation.
Then, about $137,000 of the $729,210.03 federal disbursements went to “operating expenses,” which include credit card and bank fees but also nearly $52,000 to a company called Aristotle International, which is described in the FEC filings as “software and compliance consulting.” Aristotle also provides voter and consumer data to some of the largest political campaigns, according to its website.
NFL owners are also heavy political donors outside of the Gridiron PAC.
A USA TODAY Sports review of NFL owners’ 2019-2020 political donations showed they collectively contributed about $3.8 million during the last election cycle, and about 90% of that money supported Republican candidates or interests.
MORE: Sports team owners listen to players, but support Republicans to the tune of millions of dollars
OPINION: Some NFL owners send mixed messages with political support for Trump
The Haslams, Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill and New York Jets owner Woody Johnson made personal donations totaling more than $33,000 to McConnell during that cycle. 
Johnson was previously appointed U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom by Trump, and Edward Glazer of the Buccaneers gave $835,000 to Trump’s joint fundraising committee “Trump Victory” in 2019. 
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R.-Calif.) received $5,000. Polls indicate McCarthy is poised to become House Majority Leader as Republicans seek to take back control of the House in Tuesday’s elections. 
Sociologist Harry Edwards told USA TODAY Sports in 2020 the money represents the “ideological disconnect that remains between predominantly white owners and their Black players,” who have spoken up on social justice matters, such as police brutality and the need for greater diversity in NFL leadership positions. 
USA TODAY Sports editor Emily Olsen contributed to this report.


Leave a Comment