That MLB Donation to Cindy Hyde-Smith? It was at the Behest of Someone Much, Much Worse
On Sunday, I posted a bit about MLB's $5,000 donation to the re-election campaign of U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS). She's the one who brought up public hangings while running against an African-American candidate in a state that once had a habit of lynching African Americans. She didn't apologize. She was offended that anyone could be offended. She played politics with it.*
(*That said, if you look at the full quote, it's obvious she's not saying “public hanging” in a positive sense: “I would fight a circle saw for him; if he invited me to a public hanging, I would be on the front row.” She's saying, for this particular supporter, she would even go to a public hanging, as awful as that is. To her, they‘re as bad a fighting a circle saw. A shame we didn’t get more clarity on this—from either side.)
Anyway, for some reason, Major League Baseball donated $5k to her campaign even after she said this, and MLB's initial explanation didn't explain much:
“The contribution was made in connection with an event that MLB lobbyists were asked to attend.”
Give me 10 years and I don't think I could write a sentence that vague. Kudos.
Well, yesterday, more details surfaced. And it turns out the contribution didn't have anything to do with Ms. Hyde-Smith. It had to do with someone much, much worse:
When a lobbyist who works for MLB could not attend a fundraiser put on by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in mid-November, the league was asked instead to donate money to Hyde-Smith, according to sources. The league cut the check for Hyde-Smith's campaign on Nov. 12 or 13, two sources told Yahoo Sports – a day or two after the lynching comments were first made public by the Jackson Free Press. The campaign reported the contribution in a Nov. 24 filing.
First democracy, now baseball: How much of my world is Mitch McConnell going to ruin?
The above comes from an informative piece by Jeff Passan over at Yahoo Sports. It's a shitty site but excellent reporting. He sought out the numbers and crunched them. He got to the when and why and how much:
Since Major League Baseball established a foothold in the nation's capital at the turn of the century, the league has exploited a truism about politics in America: Influence is unbelievably cheap. Over the last 17 years, through its political action committee, MLB has donated slightly more than $3.7 million to 321 members of Congress, according to an analysis of federal election records by Yahoo Sports. For less than one season of the average salary for a single baseball player, the league wooed senators and House members, Republicans and Democrats, men and women, a few thousand dollars at a time, in hopes that someday their power could work in the league's favor.
So it looks like “MLB lobbyists”—a new term for most baseball fans—are in fact a 21st-century phenomenon. One hopes they go away. Mitch first.