Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Who, again, is Joe Ricketts? father of chicago Cubs ownership, Ameritrade founder and right wing super PAC funder #p2 #tcot


Four months after he first made a splash in the 2012 presidential race, Joe Ricketts is back on the radar.

The wealthy entrepreneur, who funds his own super PAC, is pledging to spend $10 million on helping Mitt Romney win the presidency and $2 million to help GOP House and Senate candidates.

TD Ameritrade Chairman and founder Joe Ricketts talks to shareholders in Omaha, Neb., on Feb. 16, 2005. (Dave Weaver/AP)

But unlike previous wealthy super PAC donors, Ricketts is a decidedly private and unassuming character. That changed a little in May, when a proposal was leaked in which an ad-maker urged Ricketts to fund ads focused on President Obama's ties to his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, just days after Ricketts played a big role in helping Nebraska state Sen. Deb Fischer pull an upset in her state's Republican Senate primary.

Here's a look back at the profile we did of Ricketts in May (the full post is here):

But just who is (Joe Ricketts)?

Actually, he's a man with some pretty close ties to Obamaworld and the Democratic Party.

Ricketts himself is a former Democrat who became a Republican and later an independent.

His daughter, Laura, is a gay and lesbian activist and big-time Obama bundler, having raised around half a million dollars for the man her father would apparently like to bring down.

The Ricketts family also owns the Chicago Cubs, which is in negotiations with former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel (now the mayor of Chicago) to get city help in renovating the team's 98-year-old stadium, Wrigley Field. One of Joe's sons, Tom, leads those negotiations as the Cubs' chairman.

(We reported Thursday afternoon that Emanuel is "livid," according to an aide, with the Ricketts family and has cut off communications for the time being.)

And another Ricketts son, Pete Ricketts, is a Republican National Committeeman from Nebraska who unsuccessfully self-funded a 2006 Senate campaign against Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). Pete and Laura also serve on the Cubs board, along with a fourth sibling, Todd.

"We have different political views on how to achieve what is best for the future of America, but we agree that each of us is entitled to our own views and our right to voice those views," Laura Ricketts said in a statement today. "Though we may have diverse political views, above all we love and respect each other."

The seed money for all this activism and entrepreneurship is the elder Ricketts, a self-made man who started TD Ameritrade in the 1970s when it was known by a different name, First Omaha Securities.

The family's net worth has been ranked as high as 93rd on the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans. In 2009, Joe Ricketts himself ranked 371st, with assets estimated at $1 billion.

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