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DSCC - Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee

11/20/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/20/2020 10:35

NEW INVESTIGATION: “Perdue Privately Pushed for a Tax Break for Rich Sports Team Owners”

November 20, 2020 Press Releases

ProPublica Investigation Finds Senator David Perdue 'Privately Pushed Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin To Give Wealthy Sports Owners A Lucrative Tax Break Last Year'

Perdue Has Pocketed 'Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars In Campaign Contributions From The Owners Of Professional Sports Clubs' - Including Senator Kelly Loeffler

A new investigation from ProPublica reveals that Senator David Perdue 'privately pushed Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to give wealthy sports owners a lucrative tax break last year.' The previously unreported letter obtained by ProPublica was written and signed only by Senator Perdue and focused on one 'extremely narrow rule' affecting 'only a small set of the richest Americans.'

Before he ran for office, David Perdue was a top corporate executive for Reebok when the company 'inked major licensing deals' with professional sports leagues. A review of political donations by ProPublica shows Senator Perdue 'has taken more than $425,000 from the owners of professional sports teams and their relatives' - including his Senate colleague Kelly Loeffler, who is the co-owner of a WNBA team in Atlanta. Senator Perdue refused to answer questions about what prompted his lobbying for a lucrative tax break for wealthy sports team owners, and Senator Loeffler refused to answer questions about whether she discussed the tax break regulation with Perdue.

'Senator Perdue keeps finding new ways to show Georgia voters he's a corrupt and self-dealing Washington politician who only looks out for himself, his rich friends, and the ultra-wealthy special interests that fund his campaigns,' said DSCC spokesperson Helen Kalla. 'By privately abusing his office to try to rig the rules to shower more tax breaks on the richest Americans, Senator Perdue is proving to regular Georgians why he's lost their trust.'

ProPublica: Georgia Senator David Perdue Privately Pushed for a Tax Break for Rich Sports Teamowners

By Robert Faturechi and Justin Elliott

November 20, 2020

Key Points:

  • Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., privately pushed Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to give wealthy sports owners a lucrative tax break last year, according to a previously unreported letter obtained by ProPublica.
  • Of the hundreds of pages of new regulations the agency developed, Perdue wrote about his concern with one extremely narrow rule: The owners of professional sports teams were being excluded from a valuable tax break being granted to many other businesses that are structured so that the companies don't pay taxes but the owners do.
  • Many such letters on regulatory matters are signed by multiple senators, sometimes dozens. But in this case Perdue alone wrote and signed the letter. Why Perdue got interested in an obscure tax regulation, which would impact at most only a small set of the richest Americans, is unclear. Perdue was not on the committee that crafted the legislation, making his in-the-weeds lobbying on the arcane regulation unusual, congressional experts said.
  • If the regulation had been altered as Perdue wanted, it would have been a boon for some of his largest donors. Perdue has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the owners of professional sports clubs, including now-fellow Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who co-owns Atlanta's WNBA team, the Dream.
  • Perdue's office did not answer questions about why he sent the letter or whether he discussed the matter with any sports team owners.
  • Jon Ossoff, Perdue's Democratic challenger, has cast Perdue as a member of the Washington 'swamp' who caters to the interests of corporate donors.
  • Before Perdue became a senator in 2015, he was a top executive for a string of companies, including Reebok, where in the early 2000s the company inked major licensing deals with the NFL, the NBA and the NHL.
  • A review of his campaign contributions shows that Perdue has taken more than $425,000 from the owners of professional sports teams and their relatives. Some of the top donors include the DeVos family, which owns the Orlando Magic; John Ingram, who owns the Nashville SC soccer team; Los Angeles Kings owner Philip Anschutz; and Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.
  • On the same day Perdue sent Mnuchin the letter, he received $3,000 in donations from three lobbyists at GeorgiaLink Public Affairs Group, a lobbying firm that was representing the Atlanta Braves… around that time, MLB was lobbying on the rule, urging the Treasury to give its team owners the tax break.
  • Another Perdue donor in the sports world is Loeffler… Loeffler was chief executive of Bakkt, a financial services company, and remains a co-owner of the Atlanta Dream. Her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, is chief executive of Intercontinental Exchange, the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange. Together, the couple has given about $70,000 in campaign contributions to Perdue. Mary Brock, who co-owns the Dream with Loeffler, has given Perdue more than $38,000.
  • Loeffler did not respond to questions about whether she discussed the tax break regulation with Perdue.
  • Perdue also spoke on the phone to Mnuchin while the regulation was being hashed out in late November 2018, according to the Treasury secretary's public calendar. The topic of the phone call is not specified.

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