Why did the United States Postal Service spend $31.9 Million Sponsoring Lance Armstrong?

January 14th, 2011

ESPN reports:

The U.S Postal Service spent $31.9 million to underwrite Lance Armstrong’s pro cycling team during its glory years of 2001 to 2004, approximately 60 to 65 percent of the team’s total budget, according to documents newly obtained from the agency under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

That’s $31.9 million of taxpayer dollars spent on sponsoring cycling? Really? Is that really a sport that any Americans care about?

But what troubles me more is the secrecy of this sponsorship.

Until now, the USPS has gone to great lengths to keep the precise amount it spent on Armstrong a secret. In 2003, the agency’s Office of the Inspector General issued an audit report that was highly critical of the deal but blacked-out specific sponsorship amounts.

As recently as last summer, when a federal grand jury in Los Angeles began hearing testimony from ex-members of Armstrong’s team, Postal Service officials continued to be tight-lipped about their sponsorship, responding to a Freedom of Information Act request by The File with heavily redacted documents.

Why does USPS need secrecy?

The reason originally cited by USPS for denying the public records request was that “publicizing the price needed to obtain sponsorship rights [would] harm [our] ability to negotiate cost-effective sponsorships” in the future.

Why the hell does USPS need sponsorships? The Post Office has an effective monopoly on First class mail. Why are they blowing even more of our money on advertising a sport no one cares about? The Post Office runs at a $7 billion deficit. No wonder.

It seems they no longer engage in sponsorships, so that looks like a plus.

On the appeal, it was pointed out that the agency no longer maintains sports sponsorships, and any financial information is at least six years old.