Thursday, February 25, 2010

That pesky jet.

Last weekend, I posted this excerpt from Jamie's spousal support request filings:

Let's flesh out line item 5 a bit:

Now, is anyone really going to begrudge Jamie the $880 each month for social club dues? The Dodgers should have been paying for her phones, some meals, board fees, security, and makeup. Those are all completely reasonable expenses to pay for a high-level employee, which she was. Same goes for the tables at various charity events--it's good for the brand to put her out there. She was the face of the Dodgers, after all.

Where it gets sticky is the jet lease. Per Jamie's forensic accountant:
Jamie McCourt's personal flights accounted for approximately 44%, or 159 hours, of the total flights taken by Jamie McCourt and/or Frank McCourt. Jamie McCourt's business related flights and flights that Frank took without Jamie McCourt are excluded from my analysis of Jamie McCourt's usage.
It's important to note that the $248,778 monthly NetJets perk isn't Jamie's half of the total Dodgers bill for the service; Jamie's forensic accountant did not split the $225,000 monthly lease payments and aircraft management fees for the team's 37.5% interest in a Gulfstream IV. Rather, he included that entire portion as a perk the Dodgers paid to Jamie, in addition to the approximately $24,000 per month of usage fees she incurred by her personal flights.

This is probably appropriate; I'd imagine the benefit to owning a private jet isn't so much about the flights themselves, but the availability of a flight at all times. Still, it's fair for us to ask: is this a reasonable business expense? Were Jamie and Frank taking their own jet to away games in lieu of flying on the team charter? Is that reasonable? How often was the jet flown with many empty seats?

Company aircraft have come under fire during the recession, and I'm not here to tell you which side is correct. I understand that flying by private jet can be extraordinarily expensive, even when compared to flying first class at the last second. But I also recognize that such travel can be much more efficient than commercial airlines--and hey, time is money. So I'll let you decide how you feel about the Dodgers spending millions each year to have a G-IV at their disposal.

I will tell you, though...the monthly perks to Jamie McCourt would look a whole lot less shocking without a quarter-million bucks devoted to travel by private jet.

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