McCollum: National Guard’s $26 million Sponsoring NASCAR’s Dale Earnhardt Jr. Results in ZERO Recruits

For Immediate Release:  May 18, 2012                                        
Contact:  Maria Reppas, (202) 225-6631 / (202) 527-0149 maria.reppas@mail.house.gov

Wasting Taxpayer Money Subsidizing NASCAR Must Stop

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN) expressed her outrage and disbelief at the level of waste in the National Guard’s recruitment budget.

In 2012, the National Guard is spending $26.5 million to sponsor Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s #88 car in NASCAR races for the purposes of recruitment. Over the past five years Earnhardt’s racing team has received over $136 million in taxpayer funds from the National Guard – making him the highest paid military contractor in professional sports.

Total Cost of National Guard Sponsorship of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s #88 Car

Fiscal Year 2008:                 $18.12 million

Fiscal Year 2009:                 $27.35 million

Fiscal Year 2010:                 $35.27 million

Fiscal Year 2011:                 $28.86 million

Fiscal Year 2012:                 $26.54 million

5 Year Total:                        $136.14 million

Today, an online USA Today story by Dustin Long cites the National Guard’s contracts manager for recruitment, Maj. Brian Creech, explaining the effectiveness of this taxpayer investment in military recruiting.

“In fiscal year 2012, the National Guard has been contacted by more than 24,800 individuals interested in joining because of the race sponsorship. Of those, Creech said 20 were qualified candidates and that none joined,” according to the USA Today story.

That’s right, ZERO RECRUITS JOINED. The National Guard spent $26.5 million for ZERO recruits.

“The Pentagon’s NASCAR sponsorship program is an outrageous waste of taxpayer money and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta should terminate these sponsorship programs immediately.  Spending $26 million on a NASCAR racing team – in the name of national security – for zero recruits tells me the Pentagon can painlessly absorb some serious budget cuts,” McCollum said.

“This Pentagon failure is particularly outrageous in light of the fact that last week House Republicans voted to kick 200,000 low-income kids out of the school lunch program and eliminate funding for “Meals on Wheels” for home-bound seniors in order to add $55 billion to the defense budget.”

Yesterday, an amendment to stop funding Pentagon sponsorship of NASCAR and other professional sports was offered by Rep. McCollum and Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) to fiscal year 2013 Defense appropriations bill.  The amendment passed on a voice vote and will now go to the House floor as part of the $608 billion defense spending bill.

Congresswoman Betty McCollum serves on the House Appropriations and Budget Committees.

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