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McCain, Flake report rips DOD for paying teams to honor soldiers

Arizona National Guard members take their oath at an Arizona Diamondbacks game on Aug. 23, 2014. (Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs Photo)

Two Arizona senators said some events honoring soldiers are nothing more than “paid-marketing campaigns” put on for unsuspecting audiences funded by the Department of Defense.

The DOD spent $6.8 million to honor soldiers at sporting events since 2012, a report from Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake said.

“Americans across the country should be deeply disappointed that many of the ceremonies honoring troops at professional sporting events are not actually being conducted out of a sense of patriotism, but for profit in the form of millions in taxpayer dollars going from the Department of Defense to wealthy pro sports franchises,” McCain said in a release.

“Fans should have confidence that their hometown heroes are being honored because of their honorable military service, not as a marketing ploy,” he continued.

The DOD said the paid events are intended to boost military recruitment, but McCain or Flake said there was no evidence to show the idea worked.

“Professional sports teams do a lot of good for our military, but paid patriotism on the taxpayers’ dime cheapens true displays of patriotism,” Flake said in a release.

The report alleged the DOD was not cooperative with the investigation and failed to supply at least 30 percent of the contracts listed.

The report included teams from every major professional sports league, some colleges and NASCAR. Only one Arizona team was mentioned: The Diamondbacks.

The report claimed the Arizona Army National Guard paid the team $40,000 in 2014 for an on-field oath ceremony, color guard demonstration, scorecard delivery, 20 entry vouchers for two home games and the opportunity for a soldier to throw out the first pitch on Sept. 17, 2014.

That first pitch was thrown by Phoenix Suns draft picks Tyler Ennis and T.J. Warren.

A new defense spending act prohibits the DOD from using taxpayer money to fund patriotic events at games.

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