NFL to repay $723K to US taxpayers over ‘paid patriotism’ scandal

© Aaron Josefczyk
The National Football League (NFL) will return more than $700,000 that it received from the US Defense Department which was used to honor the military.

USA Today reported that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote to Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake on Thursday to inform them the league would repay $723,734 to taxpayers for events that celebrated members of the armed forces at games.

"In order to ensure that military appreciation activities remain separate from military recruitment efforts in the future, the NFL will include an assessment of marketing contracts in our regular internal audit reviews," Goodell wrote in the letter.

McCain and Flake produced a report in November which criticized the NFL for effectively taking money from taxpayers to fund the events, calling it “paid patriotism.”

Flake admitted he was pleased the NFL had made the decision to return the money.

"In all the years I've spent rooting out egregious federal spending, the NFL is the first organization to perform due diligence, take responsibility and return misspent funds to the taxpayers," he said.

"The NFL's response to this investigation sets a new standard and only strengthens its reputation as a supporter our nation's military service members and veterans."

McCain added: "I applaud the NFL's audit in response to our oversight investigation into 'paid patriotism'. Returning the $723,000 is the right thing to do."

The NFL had hired the auditing firm Deloitte & Touche LLP to review 100 agreements involving its teams between 2012 and 2015.

Auditors looked at what portion of the contracts went towards legitimate recruiting promotion and how much was for activities honoring the troops.

ESPN says the Defense Department had given NFL teams about $5.4 million from 2011 to 2014 with some of that funding used for acts of “paid patriotism.”

McCain also called on other major leagues in the US to carry out a review of monies they had received.

"The other organizations - Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, National Basketball Association and Major League Soccer - should also conduct an audit and return the money or donate it to service members, veterans and their families," McCain said.

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