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.
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.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is not returning calls from the Ricketts family and is “livid” over a New York Times report that Joe Ricketts commissioned a proposal for a multimillion-dollar ad campaign linking President Obama to the president’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, according to an Emanuel aide.
Joe Ricketts’s children, which include Obama bundler Laura Ricketts, bought the Chicago Cubs in 2009 and have been in talks with the city about renovating the team’s 98-year-old stadium, Wrigley Field.
That appears to be on hold now.
“The Mayor was livid when he read that the Ricketts were going to launch a $10 million campaign against President Obama – with the type of racially motivated ads that are insulting to the president and the presidential campaign,” said the aide, who was granted anonymity to speak candidly about the situation. “He is also livid with their blatant hypocrisy.”
Updated at 4:34 p.m.
Joe Ricketts made a big splash in American politics this week.
First, the founder of Omaha-based TD Ameritrade helped guide state Sen. Deb Fischer to an upset victory in the Nebraska GOP Senate primary with a late $250,000 influx from his super PAC – the first of what The Fix reported Wednesday would be a significant entrée by Ricketts into the 2012 election.
Then, the New York Times reported Thursday on just what that big entree might be: that Ricketts commissioned a study on how his super PAC could spend $10 million on an intense ad campaign tying President Obama to his controversial former pastor, Jeremiah Wright .
For his part, Ricketts rejected the idea that he had any plans to make Wright a major issue of the campaign.
“Not only was this plan merely a proposal — one of several submitted to the Ending Spending Action Fund by third-party vendors — but it reflects an approach to politics that Mr. Ricketts rejects, and it was never a plan to be accepted, but only a suggestion for a direction to take,” said a spokeswoman for Ricketts.
The denial aside, Ricketts has suddenly become a major player in American politics.
But just who is he?