As first reported by the Associated Press, MLB becomes the first major sports league to publicly announce such a response to the riot. A spokesman for the NFL, which has had a stormy relationship with President Trump because of his strident opposition to player protests during the national anthem, told The Post, “We are reevaluating our political giving policies through the Gridiron PAC.”
Over the past three election cycles, including the two-year run-up to the 2016 elections, MLB’s Office of The Commissioner PAC has contributed a total of $669,375 to candidates for federal offices (per the Center for Responsive Politics). Of that sum, $350,875 went to Republicans and $318,500 to Democrats, although Democrats received a greater share in the past two cycles.
MLB joins a number of major corporations, including tech giants Facebook, Google and Microsoft and defense contractors such as Northrop Grumman and Raytheon Technologies, in halting political action committee contributions to both major parties.
A number of other companies, such as Amazon, Walmart and Nike, have said they are specifically halting contributions to the 147 lawmakers, including eight Republican senators and 139 Republican House members, who opposed certifying President-elect Biden’s election.
“Given the unacceptable attempt to undermine a legitimate democratic process,” an Amazon spokeswoman said Monday, “the Amazon PAC has suspended contributions to any member of Congress who voted to override the results of the U.S. presidential election.”
Among those lawmakers was Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), who was asked in 2018 by MLB to return a $5,000 donation after she appeared to make a lighthearted allusion to lynching and an endorsement of voter suppression. Hyde-Smith did not receive a contribution from the MLP PAC in the 2019-20 cycle (per the Center for Responsive Politics), nor did Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who was also part of the group of 147 lawmakers and who received $7,500 from MLB in 2017-18.
MLB’s announcement Wednesday did not address individual contributions from the likes of players and team owners. The San Francisco Chronicle cited Federal Election Commission records Wednesday in reporting that San Francisco Giants owner Charles B. Johnson and his wife each gave a maximum contribution of $2,800 in September to the campaign of Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), another member of the group of 147. Boebert has quickly drawn criticism for supporting the QAnon conspiracy theory, for trumpeting her determination to carry her Glock pistol to the Capitol and on the streets of Washington, and for sending tweets during the riot that could have helped the mob determine the location of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). The Chronicle noted that Boebert also received campaign contributions from Arizona Diamondbacks owner Earl “Ken” Kendrick and his wife.
In 2018, MLB’s lobbying efforts helped get a provision into a massive spending bill that exempted minor league players from federal wage-minimum laws. That provision, the “Save America’s Pastime Act,” was opposed by the Major League Baseball Players Association but reportedly supported by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).