Sports

What Is Cubs Owner Joe Ricketts Accused of? Ownership Group Issues Apology for Racist Emails

Joe Ricketts, the patriarch of the Chicago Cubs’ family ownership, finds himself under the spotlight for all the wrong reasons, after a number of emails involving racist jokes were leaked by splinternews.com on Monday.

The emails go back several years and contain several jokes with racial undertones as well as a number of conspiracy theories, which Ricketts shared with his contacts.

In a series of emails, the billionaire actively spread rumors about former President Barack Obama’s past, questioning his faith and suggesting he never attended Columbia University and had in fact bought “a fake diploma”.

Throughout his two mandates as President, conspiracy theories about Obama abounded, including one suggesting he wasn’t an American citizen.

It is not the first time Ricketts has come in the spotlight for an attack on the former President either. In 2012, The New York Times revealed that the 77-year-old was willing to bankroll an anti-Obama campaign as the latter sought re-election. Once the report saw the light of day, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a friend of Obama and former chief of staff, was left so incensed that he pulled the plug on a $150 million public-funding package to renovate Wrigley Field.

The plans to upgrade the Cubs’ stadium had been all but approved and Emanuel’s decision limited the franchise’s ability to invest on players as it had to finance the restructuring instead.

Ricketts was warned about the content of the emails by eldest son, Pete. In 2010, Pete, the current governor of Nebraska, suggested his father should check the veracity of the content he was sharing.

However, in response to one of those warnings, Ricketts senior replied that “Islam is a cult and not a religion. Christianity and Judaism are based on love, whereas Islam is based on ‘kill the infidel,’ a thing of evil.”

The Cubs owner, and the founder of TD Ameritrade, apologized for the emails on Monday, suggesting he should have condemned some of the content.

‘I deeply regret and apologize for some of the exchanges I had in my emails,’’ he said in a statement, as per the Chicago Sun-Times. ‘‘Sometimes I received emails that I should have condemned. Other times I’ve said things that don’t reflect my value system. I strongly believe that bigoted ideas are wrong.’’

While Ricketts senior is not directly involved with the Cubs, Tom is the franchise’s chairman and Ricketts' other three sons—Pete, Todd and Laura sit on the club's board. On Monday, the former distanced himself from his father's views.

"We are aware of the racially insensitive emails in my father's account that were published by an online media outlet," he was quoted as saying by ESPN.

"Let me be clear: The language and views expressed in those emails have no place in our society.

"My father is not involved with the operation of the Chicago Cubs in any way. I am trusted with representing this organization and our fans with a respect for people from all backgrounds. These emails do not reflect the culture we've worked so hard to build at the Chicago Cubs since 2009."

Joe Ricketts [File photo] Joe Ricketts speaks during the premiere of 'The Conspirator' presented by The American Film Company, Ford's Theatre and Roadside Attractions at Ford's Theatre on April 10, 2011 in Washington, DC. Kris Connor/Getty Images for Roadside Attractions

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