MLB Asks For Return Of Donation To Maligned Senator's Campaign
MLB is "requesting the return of its $5,000 donation" to the campaign of U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), which has been "roiled in recent weeks by revelations that she made a controversial allusion to lynching," according to Felicia Sonmez of the WASHINGTON POST. MLB Chief Communications Officer Pat Courtney in a statement said that the donation "'was made in connection with an event that MLB lobbyists were asked to attend' and that MLB has requested that it be returned." News of the donation was "first reported Saturday by the political newsletter Popular Information" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/26). In N.Y., David Waldstein writes the donation is "embarrassing to MLB, which has several initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion in its sport." Many of Hyde-Smith's comments "appear to contradict baseball's mission." The Hyde-Smith campaign "reported its contributions" to the FEC on Nov. 23, which was "almost two weeks after the public hanging comments were made." But MLB said that the donation was made "earlier in the month at a political event by MLB lobbyists who were unaware of her remarks." MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred's office has its "own political action committee and donates to politicians on both sides of the aisle to help promote its causes in Congress, like protecting MLB's antitrust exemption and other legislation, like how teams pay minor league players" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/26).
NOT A GOOD LOOK: Popular Information's Judd Legum, who originally reported the donation, tweeted, "The only reason why MLB is asking for a refund is because people noticed." The Athletic's Eno Sarris: "Donating *yesterday* to this specific candidate given what she’s said and what has come to light does not the seem the same as their garden variety r and d donations." The Atlantic's Jemele Hill: "Please MLB, do continue to tell us how much people of color matter and the importance of Jackie Robinson’s legacy." The Nation's Dave Zirin: "Their efforts to get the donation returned is pure 'cover your ass.'" ESPN's Keith Olbermann: "@mlb and Commissioner Manfred have caused themselves a titanic problem. ... Their donation was made after 7 major corporations recanted similar donations." Former MLBer Brandon McCarthy: "Criminals and racists should get no donations- regardless of their chances of winning." Podcaster Patrick Monahan: "In MLB’s defense, if your lobbyists get the chance to pay $5K to stand around and eat mini crab cakes in the general vicinity of a junior senator from a state without a franchise who’s most prominently known for doing and saying a bunch of racist stuff, you gotta take that chance" (TWITTER.com, 11/25).
AWKWARD SITUATION: In S.F., Henry Schulman noted Giants co-Owner Charles Johnson and his wife Ann "each donated the maximum $2,700" to Hyde-Smith's campaign last Tuesday, "nine days after her 'public hanging' comment surfaced." Meanwhile, election filings from last month also showed Charles Johnson "donated $1,000 to a Super PAC called Black Americans for the President's Agenda, which created a racist robocall used during an Arkansas congressional election before the midterms" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/24). YAHOO SPORTS' Ryan Young wrote not only can Johnson's donation "make it awkward for Giants fans -- considering San Francisco is one of the more diverse and liberal-leaning cities in the United States -- but it could make for an awkward situation for the entire league and baseball fans across the country" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/24).