The chairman of the Chicago Cubs is distancing himself from a series of “racially insensitive” emails sent by his billionaire father, Joe Ricketts, including one in which he purportedly referred to Islam as a cult rather than a religion.
The series of emails obtained by Splinter on Monday reportedly details exchanges between Ricketts, 77, and his son and team chairman Tom Ricketts, 55, who issued a statement to the Chicago Tribune after the emails were published.
“We are aware of the racially insensitive emails in my father’s account that were published by an online media outlet,” Tom Ricketts told the newspaper. “Let me be clear: the language and views expressed in those emails have no place in our society.”
Ricketts also noted that his father — a billionaire who made his fortune as the founder and former CEO of TD Ameritrade — is “not involved” in the day-to-day operation of the storied franchise.
“I am trusted with representing this organization and our fans with a respect for people from all backgrounds,” Tom Ricketts’ statement continued. “These emails do not reflect the culture we’ve worked so hard to build at the Chicago Cubs since 2009.”
In 2009, the Ricketts family purchased the Cubs, with Joe Ricketts using 34 million TD Ameritrade shares — worth $403 million — to finance the buy, according to the Tribune.
In one message sent in 2010 from Joe Ricketts to his son Pete Ricketts, who sits on the team’s board of directors, the billionaire investor flatly divulged his personal thoughts on Islam in an email about Americans and religious freedom while forwarding a story from Snopes.com about prison minister Rick Mathes.
“Thanks Peter,” Joe wrote. “However, I think 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.”
Pete Ricketts had just previously suggested to his father that he research “these stories” before sharing them, explaining that there was some discrepancy about their authenticity.
“I am not sure that your statement is accurate with regards to Islam but I recommend reading the piece on snopes,” Pete Ricketts replied.
In another message sent in August 2010, Joe Ricketts made clear his plans to share a YouTube link that questioned whether President Barack Obama was actually a “Saudi/Muslim ‘plant’” who was controlling the White House.
“WOW!” Ricketts wrote. “I’m sending on.”
In a subsequent message, Joe Ricketts wrote: “My impression is that the President is more sympatric to Muslims than Christians/Jews. We are a Christian country and I feel like this is just a continuation of the assault on Christianity in America. My feeling are [sic] that I don’t like it.”
Peter Chase, the Cubs’ director of media relations, referred requests for comment on behalf of the team to vice president of communications Julian Green, who did not immediately return a message early Tuesday. Dennis Culloton, a spokesman for the Ricketts family, told The Post that the Cubs had “nothing additional” to say aside from Tom Ricketts’ statement issued Monday.
Joe Ricketts, meanwhile, declined to comment when reached by Splinter regarding the emails, the website reports. But the billionaire addressed the matter on his personal website after being contacted by the Gizmodo Media Group property.
“I deeply regret and apologize for some of the exchanges I had in my emails,” Ricketts wrote on his website. “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.”
Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, also commented on the controversial emails, saying “ignorance and intolerance” aren’t welcome in the city.
“Joe Ricketts once said that I do not share his values. Truer words were never spoken,” Emanuel’s statement read. “The ignorance and intolerance he has espoused are not welcome in Chicago. Those are not the values I learned from my parents, and those are not the values Amy and I have instilled in our children. Joe Ricketts should consider himself lucky he has never met my mother. She would teach him a lesson. I am proud not to share his bigoted opinions. Hate has no home in Chicago.”
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