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Washington Spirit investors increase pressure on Steve Baldwin to sell to Y. Michele Kang

Y. Michele Kang, top left, is seeking to purchase a majority stake in the 2021 NWSL champions. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

A group of Washington Spirit investors, including former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle, has threatened legal action against managing partner Steve Baldwin if he does not sell the National Women’s Soccer League team to the higher bidder, co-owner Y. Michele Kang.

Baldwin this month entered into exclusive negotiations with a group headed by billionaire Todd Boehly, whose offer of $25 million is about 30 percent less than Kang’s $35 million bid.

In a letter to Baldwin obtained by The Washington Post, 17 investors said, “It is our collective position that the $35 million bid is so far superior that there is but one option worth pursuing.”

If Baldwin sells to Boehly, the letter says, the investors “reserve all of their rights and remedies under the governing documentation and applicable state and federal law. Please consider this a collective notice and reservation of rights.”

Those signing the letter included Daschle and his wife, Linda; former diplomat Bonnie McElveen-Hunter; and Estee Portnoy, Michael Jordan’s longtime business manager. They are among dozens, including Chelsea Clinton, Jenna Bush Hager and Alex Ovechkin, who invested in the Spirit this year.

“I support Michele Kang’s desire to be the primary owner,” Daschle said in an email to The Post. “She is a very successful businesswoman. It is a women’s soccer league. She can take the team to even higher levels.”

Washington Spirit’s female co-owner calls on controlling owner to sell amid turmoil

The letter was sent to Baldwin by John McJunkin, a local attorney who, along with his wife, Karen, is among the investors. McJunkin said in an email to The Post that he did not want to comment. Baldwin did not reply to a message.

Baldwin and Kang have feuded for months over control of the team, which last month won its first NWSL championship. Amid myriad off-field issues, including allegations that former coach Richie Burke verbally and emotionally abused players, Baldwin backed out of an apparent deal that would’ve made Kang the majority partner.

Kang had confronted Baldwin over his treatment of women at the club, including a top executive and close ally who often used degrading nicknames for female employees and players. Baldwin, in turn, accused Kang of meddling in the team’s “day-to-day affairs” and “compromising” its messaging.

Several people close to the situation said that, despite the players backing Kang to run the team, Baldwin does not want to sell to her under any circumstances.

A legal battle over the future of the Spirit could have ramifications for the NWSL. The league, which has been battered by allegations that it failed to adequately address abuse by multiple coaches this year, would need to approve any sale of the club. An NWSL spokesman did not respond to inquiries from The Post.

Boehly’s interest was first reported by The Post in October. Subsequently, the Athletic reported Kang increased her offer from $21 million to $35 million.

Boehly, a co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Lakers and Sparks, partnered in his bid with, among others, executive and philanthropist Jennifer Tepper Mackesy. Mackesy and her husband, Scott, met with players Dec. 17 but, according to people familiar with the talks, didn’t make a favorable impression.

Molly Hensley-Clancy contributed to this report.

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