Did Jamie McCourt enlist billionaire Ron Burkle in her efforts to buy out her ex-husband Frank McCourt as owner of the Dodgers?
As Frank McCourt launched an unusually personal attack on Commissioner Bud Selig, and as Jamie McCourt charged her ex-husband with waging “jihad” against Major League Baseball at her expense, the newest development in the Dodgers’ long-running ownership saga revolved around the potential involvement of Burkle.
Jamie McCourt has said for more than a year that she would line up investors in a bid for the Dodgers, but she never identified any potential partners. In an email dated May 31 and included in a Los Angeles Superior Court filing, an attorney for Frank McCourt asked for documents related to “the proposed deal with Mr. Burkle.”
Dennis Wasser, an attorney for Jamie McCourt, would not say whether his client had spoken with Burkle but said she had not reached a pact with him or anyone else.
“There is no deal,” Wasser said. “There is no draft of a deal. There are several qualified prospective buyers with a very keen interest who have called and inquired about the availability of the team.”
Burkle, who owns a home in Beverly Hills and whose net worth is estimated at $3.2 billion by Forbes, is believed to be interested in buying the Dodgers. Steve Garvey said in April that he had partnered with Burkle, then conceded last month that the two men had no formal agreement. Burkle’s spokesman declined to comment Thursday.
Jamie McCourt asked Thursday that her request for an immediate sale of the Dodgers be withdrawn, conceding that the disposition of the team for now is under the control of a Delaware Bankruptcy Court. In that venue, MLB initially claimed Frank McCourt had diverted more than $100 million from team revenue for personal use.
In a generally unrelated filing in divorce court, attorneys for Frank McCourt dismissed that claim as “patently false.”
“Even taking the commissioner’s false claim that $100 million was taken out of the Dodgers at face value,” the filing read, “it is difficult to understand how the commissioner can complain about this when he pays himself a salary of approximately $20 million a year — meaning that he has taken out between $120 million and $140 million from baseball revenues during the same period that he complains about $100 million being taken out by the owner of a team.”
Selig’s annual salary is $18.35 million, according to the most recent MLB tax documents available online.
In response, MLB Executive Vice President Rob Manfred agreed that McCourt had not taken $100 million from the team.
“He took a lot more than that,” Manfred said in a statement. “Unlike Mr. McCourt, the commissioner does not engage in self-dealings. Whatever the commissioner receives is determined and approved by the clubs.”
Jamie McCourt also filed papers Thursday opposing Frank McCourt’s request to reduce her spousal support. He has argued her current level of support exceeds his $5 million in annual income; she alleged he has access to $70 million in assets not restricted by the Dodgers’ bankruptcy.
The Dodgers and other assets controlled by him are worth about $900 million, she contends, and the couple’s homes and other assets controlled by her are worth about $39 million.
Frank McCourt has said he can no longer “support [her] lifestyle” and has asked that she sell or rent the homes. In response, her attorneys alleged he would rather use the support money “to further finance his war against Jamie and MLB in order to retain [the Dodgers] for himself.”