CHICAGO — The patriarch of the family behind the Chicago Cubs has apologized after an online media outlet published emails in which he took part in racist comments and conspiracy theories.
Some of the emails Splinter News published Monday featured Joe Ricketts making Islamophobic comments, such as “Islam is a cult and not a religion.” Others included conspiracies about former President Barack Obama’s birthplace and education.
Ricketts, who founded TD Ameritrade, apologized for the emails.
“Sometimes I received emails that I should have condemned. Other times I’ve said things that don’t reflect my value system,” the 77-year-old Ricketts said. “I strongly believe that bigoted ideas are wrong.”
Joe Ricketts and two of his sons, Pete Ricketts and Todd Ricketts, have long been influential figures in conservative politics. Pete Ricketts, who is the Republican governor of Nebraska, can be seen cautioning his father in some of the emails.
“My father said he deeply regrets and apologizes for some of the exchanges in his emails,” Gov. Pete Ricketts said in an email to The Associated Press.
Cubs’ Chairman Tom Ricketts issued a separate statement saying his father’s emails don’t reflect the values of the Cubs.
“We are aware of the racially insensitive emails in my father’s account that were published by an online media outlet,” he said. “Let me be clear: the language and views expressed in those emails have no place in our society.”
Joe Ricketts sold 34 million shares of TD Ameritrade to help purchase the Cubs in 2009. Tom Ricketts said in the statement that his father isn’t involved in the Cubs’ operations.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has long been a critic of Joe Ricketts, also condemned the emails.
“The ignorance and intolerance he has espoused are not welcome in Chicago,” he said.
Emanuel pulled a $150 million public-funding package for renovations at Wrigley Field — the home of the Cubs — after news of plans for an anti-Obama attack ad that was linked to a Super PAC funded by Joe Ricketts.