Sources: MLB Gave To Hyde-Smith After Lynching Comment Was Public
MLB oversight of political donations "will tighten" going forward, particularly with how easily a donation was made to the campaign of U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) a day or two after her lynching comments were "first made public," according to sources cited by Jeff Passan of YAHOO SPORTS. Sources noted that the league "cut the check" for Hyde-Smith on Nov. 12 or 13, meaning the current controversy "could have been avoided." Sources also noted the donation came about when an MLB lobbyist could "not attend a fundraiser put on by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in mid-November," and then the league was "asked instead to donate money to Hyde-Smith." Passon wrote the "ugliness is particularly acute for MLB because of how the league’s efforts to celebrate its diverse history and recruit young black players run in contrast to its support of a candidate who attended a so-called segregation academy in Mississippi." But Hyde-Smith "isn’t the only candidate charged with racism" to whom MLB has donated, as the league gave U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) $1,000 in '04 and '06. If any good can "come of the current conflagration, it’s added incentive to redouble the league’s commitment to vital causes" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/26).
SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS: SI.com's Jon Tayler wrote the idea that the contribution was made as part of some "larger lobbyist event, though, raises plenty of bigger questions about the event itself, who was in attendance, and why MLB was there." Even if Hyde-Smith "received the money before she joked about hangings, why didn’t MLB rescind its donation between then and now, as several other corporations did?" Hyde-Smith’s particular views "didn’t matter to MLB’s PAC, because she’s just one of many beneficiaries of the league’s lobbying largesse, not a specific target." MLB "isn’t in the business of playing favorites or politics -- just making sure that the league stays on the good side of those currently in Congress" (SI.com, 11/26). In N.Y., Carron Phillips notes Hyde-Smith’s "'hanging' clip made national news, so it’s hard to believe Major League Baseball was unaware when they made their donation." Phillips: "Are we supposed to believe they blindly cut checks to candidates without doing their due diligence?" In October of last year, the league announced the creation of a "diversity fellowship program." Phillips: "I’m here to tell you that Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball are full of it. Because it’s impossible to be sincere about these efforts, while also writing checks to support people like Cindy Hyde-Smith" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/27).