Monday, May 21, 2012

McHenry: NASCAR Amendment Authored For Political Gain

Congressman Patrick McHenry (R/NC) says he will fight a recent proposal to abolish military sponsorship of professional sporting events and teams, accusing one of the amendment’s sponsors of using the issue for political gain.

McHenry, who represents a district that includes a number of NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series teams, said the recent amendment authored by Minnesota Democrat Betty McCollum and Georgia Republic Jack Kingston meddles unnecessarily into the Defense Department’s ability to spend its marketing dollars as it sees fit.

“This amendment doesn’t limit the amount of overall advertising for the Department of Defense and it doesn’t reduce their recruitment budget,” said McHenry. “Occasionally, things pop up that are politically interesting for one representative or another… but the whole idea is that Congress should have general outlines for what is acceptable and unacceptable, but not get into the weeds of the details.

“Betty McCollum offered this amendment last year, specifying that it was (targeted at) motorsports in particular. But now, she’s broadened it, in order to – in my opinion – avoid feeling the wrath of NASCAR fans.”

McHenry said McCollum has a personal axe to grind against NASCAR and is interested primarily in the attention her amendment will generate. “I have no idea where (the animosity) comes from,” he said. “Betty McCollum is a smart individual, but in this area, I think she sees some political opportunity rhetorically. The fact is that her amendment – both last year and this year – does not actually cut spending. It just specifies that (the Defense Department) cannot advertise in one form or another. 

“If she understood the economics of this, she would see there’s a reason to be on the hood of a car in these races. There are reasons why Fortune 500 companies are writing big checks to be on the hood of a race car. It’s because of the return on investment, the T-shirt sales and all the other good will they generate. In terms of bang for the buck, I don’t know about fishing. But I do follow NASCAR and I know the economics work."

McHenry said his opposition to the amendment has nothing to do with McCollum sitting on the opposite side of the political aisle. “This is not about me being a Republican (and her a Democrat),” he said. “It’s about getting the best bang for our recruitment dollar in an era when we have an all-volunteer Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and National Guard. Different branches look at how they deliver those dollars to recruit and retain individuals. For the National Guard, the retention (aspect) of this; the ability to present the pre-race show on Memorial Day at Charlotte Motor Speedway is a huge deal and wonderful honor for those individuals who put themselves in harm’s way.

“There is a whole mix of benefits for our armed forces in that advertising. If it didn’t generate a bang for the buck, there is no way I would defend it. But it does, and that’s why I’m here speaking out against this amendment.”

McHenry said the Pentagon does not simply rubber stamp its NASCAR sponsorships, instead searching for new and better deals each season. “The National Guard is going in and negotiating a (lower) rate for next year, just like other major corporations do. They’re looking to get the best value for their dollar, and if NASCAR isn’t it, they’ll do something else with the NFL or Major League Baseball.”

He accused McCollum of “willful ignorance” when she called Dale Earnhardt, Jr. the highest paid military contractor in professional sports. “Rather than look at the nuts and bolts of it -- which I would hope she would do – she sees a benefit in offering this amendment for a rhetorical advantage. I’m sure Dale Junior would have loved to have gotten over $100 million from the United States government, but that’s simply not the case.”

McHenry said he will author an amendment of his own calling for the McCollum/Kingston language to be stricken from the appropriations bill, and demanding that the House of Representatives vote on the measure again. “This is the same issue, one year later,” he said, “and I hope we can get the same bipartisan vote as a year ago,” when the measure was defeated, 281-148.

“NASCAR fans need to make their voices heard to the members of the US House,” urged McHenry. “If my fellow members hear from NASCAR fans, I think we can win this vote. This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. This is about getting the most bang for our advertising buck, and NASCAR is clearly the best value in sports marketing.”

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:14 AM

    Godfather. Thanks for posting this. It gives some clarity on some things. Her bill is akin to telling you it is okay to eat fast food but not at McDonalds.