U.S. Army drops NASCAR sponsorship after McCollum push

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army will stop sponsoring a Stewart-Haas NASCAR racing team and driver Ryan Newman next season, thanks to an effort by Minnesota Congresswoman Betty McCollum.

The St. Paul Democrat teamed up with Georgia Republican U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston to introduce a provision preventing the military from sponsoring things like NASCAR, fishing tournaments and the like. McCollum introduced a version of the measure last year, but it was defeated.

McCollum’s office says Pentagon spending on sponsorships topped $80 million last year, and she has disputed its recruiting effectiveness.

The Stewart-Haas racing team announced the end of its Army sponsorship on Tuesday.

“By ending its sponsorship of NASCAR, the Army made the right move to eliminate a wasteful program and protect taxpayer dollars – which has been my goal all along,” McCollum said in a statement.  “Congress is facing a very difficult budget environment, and I want taxpayer dollars protected – even at the Pentagon. I applaud the Army’s decision to terminate its funding of NASCAR.”

McCollum’s amendment is attached to the 2013 Defense Appropriations bill. The Republican chairman of the House Armed Services committee plans to challenge it on procedural grounds when the bill hits the House floor.

Devin Henry can be reached at dhenry@minnpost.com

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