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Home All Articles Money, Politics, and MLB's Political Action Committee

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Maury Brown Article Archive
Written by Maury Brown   
Sunday, 22 July 2007 06:29
Article Index
Money, Politics, and MLB's Political Action Committee
List of those that received contributions FROM MLBPAC
List of contributors TO MLBPAC
All Pages

The Biz of Basebal - ExclusiveOne of the lesser known aspects of Major League Baseball is how it delves into the world of political lobbying.

Let’s face it, MLB is one lucky industry. Somehow, over the years, it has been able to retain its status as not being considered interstate commerce, and therefore, exempt from anti-trust laws. Lobbying has been one of the main reasons for keeping the much-guarded status.

You have to ask yourself how an industry that crisscrosses the US, has national and international television agreements, centralized revenues that come by way of global mechanizing agreements, and more, is somehow different than the NFL or NBA? How does baseball somehow get some type of free pass which allows for the much-guarded anti-trust exemption? (for more details on MLB's anti-trust exemption read Federal Club v National League, Toolson v New York Yankees, Gardella v. ChandlerFlood v. Kuhn, Curt Flood Act of 1997)

The truth lies in great part to how MLB negotiates the corridors of power on Capitol Hill.

Political Action Committees (PACs) have been around since 1944. The term PAC represents a political committee organized for the purpose of raising and spending money to elect and defeat candidates. Most PACs represent business, labor or ideological interests. PACs can give $5,000 to a candidate committee per election (primary, general or special). They can also give up to $15,000 annually to any national party committee, and $5,000 annually to any other PAC. PACs may receive up to $5,000 from any one individual, PAC or party committee per calendar year. A PAC must register with the FEC within 10 days of its formation, providing name and address for the PAC, its treasurer and any connected organizations. Affiliated PACs are treated as one donor for the purpose of contribution limits.

With MLB always cognizant of their anti-trust status, along with hot-button issues such as performance-enhancing drug use in the sport, and how baseball has approached broadcast packages such as MLB Extra Innings, and the upcoming MLB Network in 2009, lobbying has become a key focal point for baseball.

Officially given the longwinded titled of Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball Political Action Committee, or the acronym MLBPAC, the Washington, DC based wing of MLB has funneled large amounts of contributions to lobby those in Congress.

The money comes almost exclusively from the MLB ownership brethren, or in some cases, owners wives, into MLBPAC, which then flows into the coffers of political parties and their members on both the Democratic and Republican sides of the aisle – nearly evenly.

On top of this, there are contributions from the MLBPA and Minor League baseball – all affiliated with MLB.

In an article entitled MLB and Lobbying: A Perennial Favorite by Erik Porse, an adjunct professor with George Mason’s Public and International Affairs Department that was published in SABR’s Business of Baseball committee newsletter in the Fall of 2006, the amount of money that flows into MLB’s lobbying effort was hammered home (read the newsletter here in PDF):

In the 1999-2000 election cycle, Holly Bailey at the Center for Responsive Politics estimated that MLB teams and owners contributed $3.9 million in soft money and campaign contributions to candidates, including over $75,000 to President Bush.13 I estimate this number to be slightly higher, with over $4.2 million contributed by owners and executives affiliated with MLB offices and teams. Both of these estimates, however, do not include contributions from corporate owners such as The Walt Disney Co. or AOL Time Warner. Additionally they do not include contributions from minor league interests or the MLB Players Association.

13 - Major League Donors:  A Look at Contributions from Major League Baseball Teams and Owners - Holly Bailey

While the total break down of all MLB related monies (MLBPAC, owners, relationships to the owners, Commissioner Selig, etc.) is not within the following, a ook directly at MLBPAC and some noteworthy contributions by some of the owners and players in MLB will be outlined.

Below are the totals of contributions flowing in and out of MLBPAC

Total Receipts

$330,175

Total Spent

$331,438

Begin Cash on Hand

$17,285

End Cash on Hand

$16,022

Debts

$0

Date of last report

December 31, 2006

Contributions from this PAC to federal candidates   
(49% to Democrats, 46% to Republicans)
$177,938
Contributions to this PAC from individual donors of $200 or more $322,44

Official PAC Name:
OFFICE OF THE COMMISSIONER OF MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE
Location: WASHINGTON DC, 20036
IFEC Committee ID: C00368142

Source: The Center For Responsive Politics

On top of the above figures, here are a handful of notable independent contributions by those in MLB.

Select the link for each of the donors to see details on The Center For Responsive Politics' website.

  • Bud Selig - Two donations of $2,300 to Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Conn). Dodd lists Selig as a "very good friend", so much so that he addressed the floor of Congress when Selig accepted an extension to his contract as Commissioner in 1998 by saying in part:

Perhaps the biggest problems facing baseball today is the dichotomy between rich and poor teams. And few Commissioners could be as uniquely well-suited to address this issue. As the owner of a small-market team Bud Selig understands the difficulties that the Milwaukees and Montreals of the world have going up against teams like the Braves and the Yankees.

He was instrumental in securing a revenue-sharing agreement between large and small market teams, and I am confident that he will continue seeking ways to address this issue.

  • Peter Angelos - Angelos, the owner of the Baltimore Orioles, and a well known trial lawyer, is also a strong supporter of the Democratic party. Of the $80,000 in contributions he has made during the most recent cycle, the largest of them were two $28,500 contributions, one to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Cmte, and one to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Cmte.

 

  • Jerry Reinsdorf - The Chicago White Sox's owner, Reinsdorf's contributions are an interesting mix with Senator Gorden Smith ($2,300), Senator Joseph Biden ($1,000), Senator John McCain ($2,100), and Senator Barack Obama ($2,300) are key notables.

 

  • George Steinbrenner - As the owner of the New York Yankees, "The Boss" lists but one candidate that he contributed to during this election cycle, and those that have noted some of the news of the day regarding the construction of New Yankee Stadium should find this no surprise. The lone contribution is to Rudy Giuliani ($4,600). Giuliani's firm, Giuliani Security and Safety, was hired as the stadium security consultant court papers show. He also approved a $21 million reduction in rent that the Yankees will have to pay.

 

  • Arte Moreno - The owner of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim contributed to Giuliani, as well ($2,300). His wife also contributed $2,300 to Giuliani.

 

  • Frank McCourt and Jamie McCourt - The owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers and his wife Jamie, who is the Vice Chairman and President of the Dodgers contribute to Democratic Party members. Frank McCourt lists Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) ($1,150), and Senator Hilary Clinton (D-NY) ($2,300). Jamie McCourt lists$1,150), Senator Dodd ($2,300) and Senator Clinton ($2,300) and Senator Lautenberg ($1,150) as those she has contributed to.

Select Read More to see details of all contributions coming in and out of MLB's Political Action Committee for the last election cycle on record (2006)

All Data listed below by way of The Center For Responsive Politics



 
 
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