April 3, 2013 •
Major League Baseball Spends Big on Political Donations
The league and its clubs contributed over $24 million last election cycle
It has been a long cold winter for most of the country and though it may be hard to see, sunshine and warm weather are fast approaching. While cold temperatures and snow are making summer seem far in the distance, Major League Baseball’s opening week is upon us and that means summer is close. With America’s pastime finally here, the Sunlight Foundation did a report on how much Major League Baseball and its clubs contributed to campaigns and PACs throughout the last election cycle.
According to the report, MLB organizations contributed more than $24 million last election cycle. The Chicago Cubs can’t win on the field (they have not been to a World Series since 1945 and have not won since 1908), but they certainly won the political spending war. The Cubs spent $13.9 million, more than $12 million more than any other team. Most of that money, more than $12 million, went to a PAC started by the Ricketts family (the team’s ownership group) established to fight wasteful spending in Washington and the defeat of President Obama. However, not all of the family veered to the right with their spending. Laura Ricketts spend more than $500,000 on Democratic candidates and PACs.
The Cubs rival, and President Obama’s favorite team, the Chicago White Sox were one of the few teams who favored the Democrats in their spending. The White Sox gave several donations to Obama, amounting to $60,000 and only $7,000 to Obama’s opponent in the presidential election, Mitt Romney.
Not all teams spend heavily though. The Toronto Blue Jays did not contribute a single penny, as federal laws do not allow foreign contributions to campaigns. The Oakland Athletics only gave a $5,000 contribution to the league’s PAC and gave nothing to either the Republican or Democratic parties. The New York Yankees, owners of the league’s highest payroll at nearly $229 million, only spent $43,000 off the field in political donations.
In addition to the individual teams contributing, Major League Baseball operates its own PAC, called the MLB Commissioner’s Office PAC. The league collects donations from each team and contributes fairly evenly to both the Democrats and Republicans. The Los Angeles Dodgers were the only team to eschew a donation to the league’s PAC.
Most of the donations coming from baseball were made by team executives and owners. However, a few current and former players decided to contribute. Players to contribute to the Republicans included White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham, New York Yankees designated hitter Travis Hafner, and San Diego Padres closer Huston Street. Los Angeles Dodgers outfield Tony Gwynn Jr. was the only current player to contribute to the Democrats, but he was joined by Hall of Famers Hank Aaron and Lou Brock.
For a complete look at how each team contributed, check out the Sunlight Foundation’s report. And just remember, no matter how miserable the weather may be today, baseball is here and summer is right around the corner.
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com.