Poe, Kucinich Say Citigroup $400 Million Naming Rights Deal has to Go
Demand Treasury Force Bailout Recipient to Cancel Deal with NY Mets
Washington D.C. (January 29, 2009) One of Congress' most liberal members and one of its most conservative members have teamed up in a letter demanding Treasury officials take steps to force Citigroup to give up its $400 million naming rights deal with the New York Mets.
Representatives Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and Ted Poe (R-TX) today sent a letter to the Secretary of the Treasury Department, Mr. Timothy Geithner, requesting that Treasury demand that Citigroup dissolve their $400 million contract with the New York Mets to name the new Mets stadium Citi Field.
In the letter, Poe and Kucinich point out that Citigroup's financial situation has changed drastically since the deal with the Mets was signed in 2006. In the past several months, Citigroup has received more than $350 billion in taxpayer money from economic stabilization efforts and loans. Additionally, in November of 2008, Citigroup announced that their intent to cut more than 50,000 jobs from their workforce.
Citigroup claimed it was on the brink of financial disaster, then demanded and took $45 billion from the taxpayers through government giveaways, said Poe. But now it seems they have an extra $400 million lying around to plaster their name all over the brand new New York Mets ballpark, Citi Field. While average Americans are hunkering down worried about their jobs, food, clothes, and mortgage payments, these irresponsible executives are blowing hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. Citigroup should be held to the same standards they hold their customers to and be forced to repay the American taxpayer first.
"Out of work Americans are literally being killed by this economy. In Michigan, a 93-year-old man freezes to death after the electric company limits his heat. In California, a family is lost in a murder-suicide because of work issues. In every state, American homes are foreclosed and people put on the street. At Citigroup, 50,000 people will lose their jobs. Yet in the boardroom of Citigroup, spending $400 million to put a name on stadium seems like a good idea. The Treasury Department, which forced Citigroup corporate executives to give up their private jet, should also demand that Citigroup cancel its $400 million advertisement at the Mets field and instead begin to repay their debt to the taxpayers," stated Kucinich.
The full text of the letter follows:
The Honorable Timothy Geithner
United States Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20220
Dear Secretary Geithner:
Congratulations on your appointment as Secretary of the United States Treasury. We wish you the best of luck as you undertake the challenging task of addressing our nations continuing financial crisis.
We write to you with deep concern regarding the questionable business decisions of Citigroup in light of their continued federal assistance. We were pleased to hear Citigroup announce earlier in the week that they intend to refuse delivery of a luxury corporate jet reportedly at the behest of President Obama; however their decision to move forward with a stadium naming rights deal with the New York Mets is extremely troubling.
In November 2006, Citigroup announced they had reached an agreement with the New York Mets to name their new stadium Citi Field. According to the terms of the agreement, Citigroup will pay the New York Mets a total of $400 million over 20 years. Citi Field opens for competition at the commencement of the 2009 baseball season.
Since this time, Citigroups financial position has changed drastically. As you well know, Citigroup received $25 billion from the first installment of the Capital Purchase Program, authorized by Emergency Economic Stabilization Act. Since then Citigroup has received an additional $20 billion from the Targeted Investment Program as well as a federal guarantee on approximately $306 billion of loans and securities. Additionally, in November 2008 Citigroup announced their intention to cut more than 50,000 jobs from their workforce.
Citigroup is now dependent on the support of the federal government for its survival as an institution. As such, we do not believe Citigroup ought to spend $400 million to name a stadium at the same time that they accept over $350 billion in taxpayer support and guarantees.
We request that you intervene and demand that Citigroup dissolve the agreement they have with the New York Mets. Absent this outcome, we feel strongly that you should compel Citigroup to return immediately all federal monies received to date, as well as cancel all loan guarantees.
Thank you for your care and attention to this matter. We look forward to your response.
Dennis J. Kucinich Ted Poe
Member of Congress Member of Congress