CNBC has obtained a letter signed by six house Representatives from New York State sent to Timothy Geithner, asking the Treasury Secretary to disregard the call for Citigroup to break its 20-year, $400 million investment for the naming rights to the New York Mets stadium.
The letter comes in response to a note sent to Geithner two weeks ago by Representatives Ted Poe and Dennis Kucinich.
The note asked Geithner to recommend that the contract be dissolved in the best interest of public policy, given that Citigroup had received $45 billion in public funds from the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP).
"We believe this would set a terrible precedent of unfairly singling out a specific company and particular form of advertising for a politically popular reason," the letter states. "This attack has broader implications on all sports marketing, and would certainly have a negative impact on all media outlets such as television, radio, cable, and newspapers."
The Representatives noted that the $20 million investment with the Mets for CitiField was less than 1 percent of the total advertising budget of Citi last year.
The letter states that it would be a "misguided decision" to "limit a TARP participant for pursuing legitimate advertising pursuits." Many TARP participants currently have stadium naming rights deals with sports teams including JP Morgan Chase (Phoenix), Comerica (Detroit), Citizens Bank (Philadelphia), PNC Bank (Pittsburgh), M & T Bank (Baltimore), Bank of America (Charlotte) and Wachovia (Philadelphia).
The letter is dated "February 10, 2009." The Representatives who signed the letter include Eliot Engel, Joseph Crowley, Steve Israel, Yvette Clarke, Gregory Meeks, Anthony Weiner.
Update: In their note, the representatives referred to other banks that have naming rights deals that are also receiving TARP funding. The representatives included Citizens Bank, which is the reason why we named the bank as well. A spokesman for Citizens Bank says that the bank has not received any government money alloted to help bail out the banks.
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