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Rep. Betty McCollum praises National Guard for dropping Earnhardt sponsorship

Posted by: Allison Sherry under Morning Hot Dish newsletter, 4th District, Democrats Updated: August 7, 2014 - 3:48 PM

WASHINGTON -- Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum praised the National Guard Thursday after it announced earlier this week it would end its $32 million annual sponsorship of NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and its $12 million contract with IndyCar driver Graham Rahal.

The money was meant to boost recruiting, but Pentagon officials were never able to verify the program actually yielded any new recruits.

McCollum, from her perch on the defense appropriations sub-committee, has criticized the program for several yearsIn 2012, she found Republican support in ending the program in Rep. Jack Kingston, a Republican from Georgia.

It was unclear Thursday whether the Pentagon would do away completely with NASCAR sponsorships. The announcement was only about Earnhardt and Rahal. McCollum's office said the Pentagon also uses taxpayer-funded "marketing" money on professional fishing, motocross, World Wrestling Entertainment and cage fighting.

“Cancelling this NASCAR racing team contract is a victory for taxpayers and I’m pleased to say the National Guard has finally made the correct decision," said McCollumn, who represents St. Paul, in a statement. "Paying one race car driver $32 million in taxpayer funds year after year to put a logo on his car has been a complete waste of tax dollars."

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