Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts is new leader of lesbian PAC
BY LYNN SWEET Washington Bureau chief May 14, 2014 11:03PM
Laura Ricketts | Sun-Times Library
Updated: June 17, 2014 2:05PM
Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts is the new chair of LPAC, the only lesbian-backed political action committee in the U.S., stepping up to a more visible and active political role as marriage equality and other gay rights battles are increasingly being fought across the nation.
“It’s important to me personally that we get more women and lesbians and bisexual women and transgender women specifically engaged in the political process,” said Ricketts, the first openly gay woman to own a piece of a major league baseball team.
“. . . I really want to inspire more women to get engaged, because if we don’t play on this field, we forfeit when decisions are made about our lives.”
I was talking to Ricketts, a Wilmette resident, about her new LPAC post after she had just returned from Lincoln, Neb., where the family put aside their political differences to join brother Pete on Tuesday, when he won the GOP nomination for Nebraska governor.
“I couldn’t be more proud of Pete today,” she said.
The Nebraska-raised Ricketts siblings, besides owning the Cubs and sitting on its board, are political players, though they don’t all go to bat for the same teams.
Laura, a member of the Democratic National Committee executive committee, is taking over LPAC at a time when brother Todd is the CEO of Ending Spending, a major conservative PAC founded by their father, and brother Pete narrowly clinched his six-way primary in a plurality win with 28.48 percent of the vote, according to the Nebraska Board of Elections.
The Cubs are led by brother Tom, the more apolitical Ricketts sibling.
“We don’t always agree on a good number of issues, but we love each other very much and respect each other’s viewpoint,” Ricketts told me. If elected, Pete will make an “outstanding” governor, she said.
She helped create LPAC in 2011, and since its founding the group has raised $1.2 million. Ricketts said her immediate fundraising task is to add $1 million to the LPAC war chest.
Ricketts was one of President Barack Obama’s biggest fundraisers in the 2012 re-election campaign, and in January she was a guest at first lady Michelle Obama’s 50th birthday party at the White House.
“Our goal is to help elect pro-lesbian, pro-women candidates to public office whether they are men or women, straight or gay, Republican or Democrat” and to “build a strategic, powerful visible donor network among lesbians nationwide,” she said.
While open to backing Republicans, the first wave of the LPAC 2014 endorsements includes 15 contenders — a mix of Democratic federal and state candidates, including Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn — and a move against a Tennesse anti-abortion ballot initiative.
To win LPAC backing, a candidate has to support ending LGBT discrimination; be for reproductive freedom; “quality health care,” and “advancing social, racial and economic justice for all Americans.”
Said Ricketts on why she is upping her game: “There is so much more work to be done and women’s rights are facing an assault on an ever-growing number of fronts.”