Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts, finance chair of the Trump Victory Committee, will host a campaign retreat this weekend for Republican party big shots that includes an event at Wrigley Field.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, another of the sibling owners, will be a guest speaker at the various gatherings, according to Axios.
The family had been in the headlines last February when Splinter News obtained and published a series of emails appearing to show Joe Ricketts, the patriarch of the family that owns the Cubs, sharing and endorsing racist jokes and conspiracy theories.
In response, Joe Ricketts and his son, Tom, chairman of the Cubs, issued separate statements.
“I deeply regret and apologize for some of the exchanges I had in my emails,” Joe Ricketts said in his statement. “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.”
In his statement, Tom said: “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.”
That controversy revived questions: Who is Joe Ricketts, and what is his connection to the Cubs? Also, what is the role of his children in the team’s operation?
John Joseph Ricketts grew up in Omaha, Neb., graduated with a degree in economics from Creighton and started a discount stock brokerage. In the 1990s he transformed the company into an internet trading powerhouse now known as TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. He is ranked among the world’s billionaires with an estimated net worth of more than $2 billion. His wife, Marlene, and four children own shares in the company.
He now lives in Wyoming.
Tom Ricketts repeatedly has emphasized that his father isn’t involved in the operations of the Cubs, although Joe Ricketts sold 34 million shares of TD Ameritrade for about $403 million to cover the equity needed to purchase the franchise in 2009.
Tom talked his siblings and dad into buying the team. “We went down the road to buy them. It was a huge amount of work,” Joe Ricketts said. “That was the most complicated transaction I’ve ever seen, that I’ve ever been involved in.”
Joe Ricketts also has been actively involved in politics. In early 2016 he and Marlene spent $5.5 million funding an anti-Donald Trump super PAC. But then in late 2016, they gave at least $1 million to support the GOP nominee.
In 2017, Joe was back in the news when he abruptly shut down DNAinfo, the 8-year-old hyperlocal news website he had launched in 2009. Six months earlier the staff had voted to unionize. Joe Ricketts has been an outspoken critic of labor unions, which he detailed in a blog on his website, joericketts.com.
Marlene and Joe Ricketts were married in 1963, when both were 22.
According to Chicago Magazine, Marlene, a teacher, was planning to work while Joe finished college. But in 1964 she gave birth to Pete, then to Tom the next year. “The bills started piling up,” Joe said in a 2000 interview. “I had to reduce my academic effort to be more in line with my ability to pay, so I went to school part time.”
Marlene has remained active with her husband in politics, contributing to the Our Principles PAC, a super PAC that in 2016 waged a campaign against Donald Trump.
Co-owner with his siblings and a member of the Cubs board of directors, Pete Ricketts also is the governor of Nebraska, having just won re-election in November.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in biology and then his MBA from the University of Chicago. After school, according to the Nebraska governor’s website, he returned to Omaha and worked for Union Pacific before working as a customer service representative at Ameritrade.
In 2006 he was the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate and spent a reported $11 million on his campaign but lost in the general election to Democrat Ben Nelson.
In 2014 he defeated Nebraska’s longtime attorney general and four other contenders who sought to replace Gov. Dave Heineman.
After the Cubs won the World Series in 2016, Pete Ricketts said: “For the family, this is fantastic. This is what we set out to do.”
When the Ricketts family bought the Cubs in 2009, it was Tom’s idea. “In one sense, it all seems an extraordinary coincidence,” he told Chicago Magazine. “On the other, that it was almost fated.” He and his three siblings — Peter, Laura and Todd — share ownership, but Tom is the chairman.
Before taking over the franchise, he worked as an investment banker.
In January, Tom Ricketts threw his financial support behind former U.S. Commerce Secretary Bill Daley’s bid for Chicago mayor, donating $25,000 to his campaign.
Laura is the co-owner of the team with her siblings and also sits on the board of directors. She has a law degree from the University of Michigan and serves on the leadership council for Lambda Legal, a civil rights organization.
In January she announced her support for Chicago mayoral candidate Susan Mendoza.
“Susana Mendoza has outlined an outstanding plan to fight corruption and raise the standard of ethics and accountability in city government,” Ricketts said in a statement.
Co-owner with his siblings and a member of the Cubs’ board of directors, Todd is also the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. In 2010, Ricketts appeared on an episode of the reality TV show “Undercover Boss,” in which he worked in disguise as an entry-level Wrigley Field employee.
This week, the Republican National Committee announced that Todd will oversee fundraising for President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign. His official title will be finance chairman of the Trump Victory Committee.
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Proud to announce I’m co-chairing the #ChiMayor19 campaign of @susanamendoza10 ! I’m backing Susana because of her outstanding and comprehensive ethics plan. It’s time we all step up and stand up to the legacy of corruption in #Chicago .