Marty Graham 7 a.m., March 14
Chargers Biggest NFL Political Donors -- by Far
Since the 1990 election cycle, the San Diego Chargers have given $2.4 million to federal political candidates and committees -- topping each of the other 31 teams by a long way, according to a study released yesterday (Sept. 17) by the Center for Responsive Politics. In fact, the Chargers have given almost four times as much as next largest donor, the Houston Texans, which have given $623,000 to federal candidates and committees. Chargers owner Alex Spanos accounts for more than $2 million of the $2.4 million. The rest was given by team officials and players. But keep in mind that the non-Alex Spanos donations come to well over half the donations of the Houston Texans. Here's the breakdown by party: 98% of the Chargers donations went to Republicans and 2% to Democrats. The team that has given the least during the period that began in 1990 is the Oakland Raiders: a mere $6,800. The Green Bay Packers have only given $8,750. That team is owned by a group of local citizens.
The National Football League last year created a political action committee, called the Gridiron PAC, which opened a Washington D.C. office as a base for lobbying the pols. NFL lobbying has increased greatly in the last two years, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The lobbying bill will come to $1.4 million this year, exceeding the previous high of $1.15 million in 2007.
One thing that worries NFL owners is a negative Congressional reaction to a relocation of a team. There was such a stink about the Cleveland team going to Baltimore that an expansion franchise had to be put in Cleveland. The Chargers covet L.A., although they claim they want to stay in San Diego. Whether this has motivated the donations is hard to tell from the center's data.