Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Politics

No tax money will fund Air Force's fantasy football league

The statement

The Air Force wants taxpayers to fund a fantasy football league.

Bloggers, in Web posts

The ruling

On blogs and on Twitter last week, people buzzed that the Air Force was preparing to spend precious taxpayer funds as it faces sequester-driven budget cuts on a fantasy football league.

"What sequester? Air Force wants taxpayers to fund fantasy football league," read a headline at WashingtonExaminer.com.

"Spared by the Sequester, So Far: Air Force Fantasy Football Program," said another at NationalReview.com.

Bloggers had noticed a March 19 "request for information" from an Air Force contracting office "seeking sources for providing the Air Force installations a Fantasy Football Program."

The Air Force's original request for information included some clues that taxpayers might not be involved.

It mentioned the personnel center services division, which runs recreation and leisure programs for Air Force members and their families around the world, including clubs, bowling, golf, fitness, arts and crafts, and recreational shooting. It also manages the Air Force's "nonappropriated funds" — money that comes from fees collected from airmen and their families.

That is to say: Money that doesn't come from Congress. It's not taxpayer money and not subject to cuts under the sequester.

The goal of all these programs, sometimes called "MWR" for morale, welfare and recreation, is just what it sounds like: to boost troop morale.

And, for 17 years, they've included an annual program called the "Football Frenzy," said Air Force spokesperson Laurel Tingley. This year, the personnel center services division wanted to find out what it would take to add fantasy football.

Thus, the request for "information and pricing on providing product branding, hosting, managing, and delivering all programs and materials related to running a Fantasy Football League," that would serve airmen, civilians and family members at "over 100 installations worldwide."

"What we're looking at doing is enhancing a program that airmen have enjoyed for 17 years," Tingley said. "And the entire program is funded through (nonappropriated funds)."

On March 21, the Air Force updated its request to say:

"This RFI is issued by the Air Force Nonappropriated Fund Purchasing Office (AFNAFPO). … THEY ARE NOT APPROPRIATIONS FROM CONGRESS OR 'TAXPAYER' DOLLARS." A day later, it canceled the request.

We rate this claim False.

Edited for print. Read the full version at PolitiFact.com.

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