Leaked emails published Monday by the website SplinterNews.com revealed racist jokes and conspiracy theories spouted and/or shared by TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, the patriarch of the Cubs’ family ownership. The revelations prompted statements from Joe Ricketts and son Tom Ricketts, the Cubs’ chairman.
‘‘I deeply regret and apologize for some of the exchanges I had in my emails,’’ Joe Ricketts said in a statement provided to the Sun-Times and other news outlets. ‘‘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.’’
Joe Ricketts and sons Pete Ricketts and Todd Ricketts have been especially active in conservative politics. Pete Ricketts, who in the leaked emails cautions his father in some cases to check the veracity of some information before sharing it, is the Republican governor of Nebraska.
In response to one of those warnings from his son in 2010, Joe Ricketts responded by sharing his belief that, ‘‘Islam is a cult and not a religion. Christianity and Judaism are based on love, whereas Islam is based on ‘kill the infidel,’ a thing of evil.’’
The leaked emails also show Joe Ricketts was an active participant in spreading the birther conspiracy aimed at former President Barack Obama and at one point shared an email that suggested Obama was once a sex worker, had made money smuggling heroin, didn’t attend Columbia University, ‘‘lied his way into Harvard’’ and bought a ‘‘fake diploma.’’
Some of the emails roughly coincide with the revelation of a racist, anti-Obama attack ad planned by a Joe Ricketts-funded Super PAC during Obama’s 2012 re-election bid.
A report by the New York Times on that planned ad so infuriated Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s friend and former chief of staff, that a $150 million public-funding package all but approved for renovations at Wrigley Field was pulled off the table, hindering the Cubs’ already debt-restricted ability to spend on players during their rebuild.
‘‘We are aware of the racially insensitive emails in my father’s account that were published by an online media outlet,’’ Tom Ricketts said in a statement. ‘‘Let me be clear: The language and views expressed in those emails have no place in our society.
‘‘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 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.’’
Joe Ricketts approved the cash portion of the family’s leveraged $845 million purchase of the Cubs in 2009, despite his conspicuous absence from most materials the team released publicly.