Photo credit: Cornstalker
Two days ago, Splinter News published a collection of racist emails from 2009-13 sent and received by Joe Ricketts, the founder, and former CEO and chairman, of TD Ameritrade. While it is not AlphaGlider's purpose or policy to call out hatred, bigotry, and ignorance of wealthy, powerful, and influential businesspeople, politicians, and celebrities (I suspect it would be a full-time job), we feel that our close business relationship1 with TD Ameritrade since our founding in 2013 requires us to speak out now. Although Joe Ricketts stepped down as TD Ameritrade's CEO in 2001, and from its board in 2011, he and his family continue to control over 10% of its shares (worth $3.3 billion as of this writing), and his son Todd is currently on its board.
We were saddened and frustrated to read the Splinter News story — but not surprised. We strongly condemn this intolerance and hatred, based on race, religion, and sexual orientation — particularly from those in positions of power in business and politics. America was founded, and made strong, on the principles of respect and equality. If we are to continue to prosper and grow, we must push back and defeat this disturbing trend. It is also the decent and moral thing to do. Paraphrasing Dr. Martin Luther King, "our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter."
We are encouraged that Joe Ricketts himself quickly acknowledged the authenticity of the leaked emails, and apologized for them.
I deeply regret and apologize for some of the exchanges I had in my emails. Sometimes I received emails that I should have condemned. Other times I’ve said things that don’t reflect my value system. I strongly believe that bigoted ideas are wrong.
— Joe Ricketts, February 4, 2019
We are also encouraged that two of Joe's four children condemned the content of their fathers' emails.
My father said he deeply regrets and apologizes for some of the exchanges in his emails. He admitted that he has said things that don’t reflect his value system and that he strongly believes that bigoted ideas are wrong. I also believe bigoted ideas are wrong. The language and views expressed in those emails do not in any way reflect my views and are not appropriate.
— Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, February 4, 2019
We are aware of the racially insensitive emails in my father's account that were published by an online media outlet. Let me be clear: The language and views expressed in those emails have no place in our society. My father is not involved with the operation of the Chicago Cubs in any way. I am trusted with representing this organization and our fans with a respect for people from all backgrounds. These emails do not reflect the culture we've worked so hard to build at the Chicago Cubs since 2009.
— Chicago Cubs Co-owner and Chairman Tom Ricketts, February 4, 2019
Major League Baseball (MLB) was also quick to condemn Joe Rickett's emails, unlike its delayed request to have its campaign donations to Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith returned after she joked about a public hanging just before the recent November elections.
We are aware of the email exchanges involving Joe Ricketts. While many of the emails were not written by Mr. Ricketts, the content is extremely offensive and completely at odds with the values and principles of Major League Baseball. Providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone is extremely important for MLB and our 30 clubs.
— Major League Baseball, February 5, 2019
TD Ameritrade also spoke up against its founder's emails, although I was disappointed it did not come from Todd Ricketts — Joe's son on TD Ameritrade board and current Republican National Committee Finance Chairman.
The exchanges disclosed yesterday reflect points of view that run counter to our values and what we stand for at TD Ameritrade: namely diversity, inclusion and compassion for each other. People matter — all people — and it’s our diversity as a company, a country, and a society that makes us strong.
— TD Ameritrade spokeswoman Becky Niiya, February 5, 2019
Talk is cheap. We are closely watching Joe Ricketts, his children, and the companies (particularly TD Ameritrade), sports league, state, and political party they lead and/or influence, to see if they are walking the walk.
1TD Ameritrade is AlphaGlider's primary independent custodian