I wondered a few weeks back how Jamie McCourt felt about the advance Frank McCourt took on the Dodgers/Fox deal. Well, if that ticked her off, Frank's attempt to collateralize the 2014-17 TV rights rendered her just about apoplectic. Here's Shaikin, in what can only be described as one of the more entertaining stories to come out of the divorce thus far:
Jamie and her advisors were "shocked" to read that report, according to the filing. Her lawyers called it "outrageous" that Frank had not disclosed the Fox discussions to Jamie and "equally outrageous" that she needed Selig to "protect the franchise's best interests given that California law imposes that very duty and obligation upon Frank, since he runs the Dodgers."
In the filing, her attorneys asked that the court order Frank to turn over all documents related to the Dodgers' broadcast rights negotiations, cash advances, loan applications, financing arrangements, debt payments and schedules, and audited financial results.
You can bet that Jamie's got a squadron of forensic lawyers and accountants ready to take a good, hard look into just how money's been flowing in and out of the constellation of entities that make up the McCourt Enterprise. And I have little doubt about her ability to seek all kinds of information. As I wrote a couple weeks ago, California Family Code calls for a spouse managing a community property business to give the other spouse equal access to information about the business upon request. That duty seems to run, in the divorce context, until the marital assets are properly divided. But don't take this law student's word for it: here's Jamie's lawyers' work instead!
It is outrageous that Jamie and her counsel have to rely upon the news media for information that Frank is affirmatively obligated under California law to provide before the fact. It is equally outrageous that Jamie has to rely upon the good offices of the MLB Commissioner to protect the franchise's best interests given that California law imposes that very duty and obligation upon Frank as the spouse with primary management and control of the Dodgers assets.
So yeah, Jamie's upset. And she ought to be: pledging the 2014-17 television rights would necessarily restrict the creation of a potentially lucrative regional sports network. Frank's lawyers have not had a chance to file a formal response to Jamie's motion, but their letters indicate they believe Jamie's requests overly broad, presumptuous, and in themselves potentially damaging to the Dodgers, in that "sensitive business matters" ought not be discussed in public.
Frank's lawyer, Sorrell Trope, expresses a willingness to exchange some of what she is looking for, provided such exchanges can be done privately and confidentially; i.e., outside the media's gaze. And for good reason: revelations of how the Dodgers have been run under the McCourts have rarely been favorable to ownership. Remember the list of Jamie's perks? Or the whole taxes thing? Or buying the Dodgers entirely on credit? Right or wrong, fair or unfair, it's indisputable that most of the information revealed about how the McCourts ran the club has been quite damaging.
So I totally understand why Frank's side, to the extent it will cooperate with Jamie's requests, wants to do so in a confidential way. After all, no one wants another of Jamie's notes about the idea to "bake" the McCourts own expenses "into the operating budget" made public. Ok, ok, I'll stop. Just saying that exposing the Dodgers' books for all to see hasn't worked out so well to this point.
And just what does Jamie want to see, anyway? Well, the list is long, and it includes:
- everything related to the proposed collateralization of TV rights
- everything related to anything related to TV rights, really
- where the Fox advance money went
- any financial machinations outside the ordinary course of Dodgers business
- a debt/equity breakdown for the complete array of Dodgers- and McCourt-related entities
- documents related to any deferred tax liability
- any distributions to Frank McCourt from any of the entities
- any plans to develop land around Dodger Stadium
- all documents concerning matters outside the United States, "including, without limitation, matters in China and the United Kingdom."
All requests go back to January 1, 2007. I urge you to remember that, knowing the skill and savvy of the attorneys involved, it seems likely the 55-category list of requests was designed with media consumption in mind. Still, it is clear that Jamie McCourt is concerned with how the Dodgers are being run in the time between the souring of the marriage and its undated final disposition. The scope of the information she gets is one question. What she does with it is another.