Sen. Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.) is questioning why taxpayers had to subsidize NFL events honoring America’s troops.
The Pentagon gave the NFL, which has revenues of nearly $10 billion, $5.4 million between 2011 and 2014 for pregame and halftime events that appeared to be put on by the football teams themselves.
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The Hill reports:
"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 said Monday to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Chief of the National Guard Bureau Gen. Frank Grass.
A report last week by NJ.com found that the Department of Defense paid the Atlanta Falcons more than $1 million during those three years, around $885,000 to the Baltimore Ravens and just under $378,000 to the New York Jets, most of which came from the New Jersey National Guard.
"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," Flake said.
"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," he added.
According to Flake’s office, the NFL is not alone in being subsidized by the taxpayers to honor service members. The Pentagon has other contracts with the MLB, NBA, NASCAR, Major League Soccer, and the NCAA.
Flake sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on Tuesday asking for the total the Pentagon has spent on similar events at college and professional sporting events since 2009.