WASHINGTON — Minnesota Democrat Betty McCollum’s latest attempt to monitor federal spending on NASCAR sponsorships has sputtered.
During a mark-up of the Department of Defense spending budget on Monday, McCollum introduced an amendment requiring the department to inform the House and Senate Appropriations Committees of its intentions to spend more than $250,000 of the more than $649 billion in the bill to sponsor racing events, drivers or teams, among other things. The committees, of which Rep. McCollum is a member, would then review the sponsorship, but they wouldn’t have the power to deny it.
The amendment was voted down, like many of her past efforts to curtail government spending on NASCAR sponsorships. Earlier this year, she offered an amendment on the House floor to ban Army sponsorships in motor sports, but it was voted down, 148-281. In May, a House panel rejected her measure to ban the Department of Veterans Affairs from using appropriated money to sponsor racing drivers, teams or events.
Unlike her past proposals, this amendment would not have prohibited those types of sponsorships, but instead require only a heads-up from the Defense Department. Such a warning would apply not only to motor sports, but also for fishing teams or fishing tournaments, professional wrestling events and ultimate or extreme fighting events. According to McCollum’s office, DOD spent more than $50.7 million on these sponsorships in 2010.
McCollum has contended these types of sponsorships don’t result in better recruiting results. According to the Department of Defense, one single event — NASCAR’s Air Guard 400, which DOD sponsored for $650,000 in 2010 but will not sponsor this year — resulted in only six “qualified leads or potentially eligible recruits,” but none of those ended up enlisting.
“For far too long, millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars were spent on motorsports with little to no oversight,” her office said in a statement. “Congresswoman McCollum’s objective is to increase transparency and accountability for spending on motorsports sponsorships.”
The committee approved several other McCollum amendments, including one that caps Pentagon spending on military bands at $200 million a year.
Devin Henry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.