New questions now about the way the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo spends charity money.
Why is the Houston Livestock show investing millions in foreign countries that they could be spending on Texas school kids?
And wait till you see just how little money the kids are really getting.
We all love a good party, and the rodeo is one good party, but they sell themselves as a charity raising money for school scholarships. If you look at their the most recent publicly available tax return, you quickly realize charity is just a fishhook for what may be the biggest concert promotion business in Texas.
The latest mystery at the rodeo
It might seem like a lot of giving– the rodeo gave $15 million in scholarships in 2016.
Dig a little deeper and you will realize the rodeo is good at putting lipstick on a blue-ribbon pig. That $15 million in scholarships is a drop in the rodeo’s cash cow bucket. In the same year, the rodeo made nearly 125 million dollars.
The kids get just pennies on the dollar.
“People are deluded if they think that by going to the rodeo and spending money there they have a lot of money going to the scholarships. It’s only like 10 cents on the dollar,” said Bob Martin, a prominent Houston accountant and tax specialist.
Did you know the rodeo is investing millions of dollars they make from the charity tickets you buy and putting that money in Central America and the Caribbean?
The rest of the rodeo’s money goes exactly where you’d expect a big company’s money to go – the bosses and their lavish office décor.
While the kids are getting pennies of a charity dollar, goodhearted Texans stumble over each other to donate their time to volunteer to work the rodeo. Tens of thousands of volunteers worked for nothing in 2015. Do it long enough and the rodeo might even grace you with a pin!
While charity-minded Texans are working for free, the rodeo pays its top employees millions of dollars a year for a three- week event, including more than $600,000 to president and CEO Joel Cowley.
We know the rodeo is a sacred cow in town, but you know us, we question power.
When Dolcefino Consulting President Wayne Dolcefino worked at Channel 13, General Manager Henry Florsheim spiked a TV station investigation into big spending by rodeo executives. Wayne Dolcefino dared to question the cost of stuff in the rodeo board’s private rooms, including a conference table which cost roughly the same as a new Lexus. Channel 13 didn’t have the guts to do that story, but the Houston Chronicle did. We all remember the headlines.
Did the Rodeo learn anything about real charity?
In that year, the rodeo made $66 million, and gave 17 percent of the money to charity scholarships for Texas kids.
Ten years later. The rodeo made twice as much money, but now only gives ten percent to the kids. The ticket prices sure have gone up too.
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo sure isn’t hurting for money. In the last publicly available tax return, they claim to have total assets of 257 million dollars. That is a quarter of a billion dollars.
Think of how many more kids from poor Houston neighborhoods the Rodeo could help, if this is really about charity.