Baseball America

MLB Wades Into Politics With Political Action Committee

For Major League Baseball, the Fall Classic doesn’t just refer to Tigers vs. the winner of tonight's Cardinals-Giants game. It’s also about Democrats vs. Republicans.

Many corporations and labor groups have Political Action Committees in place as a way to donate money to political candidates they feel will act in their best interests. Major League Baseball is no different.

The Major League Baseball Commissioner’s Office PAC has been in existence since 2001. During that time, the PAC has raised more than $2.3 million.

MLB employs three lobbyists from the Baker & Hostetler law firm who serve as liaisons in Washington: Bill Schweitzer, Josh Alkin and Lucy Calautti. All three have a history of working in politics and are fans of the game. They spend their time meeting with politicians and political groups in an attempt to educate those groups on how legislation or potential legislation could affect Major League Baseball.

“Our interactions with elected leaders and other officials in Washington have addressed labor issues, security, immigration and taxation, among other topics,” MLB spokesman Michael Teevan said via e-mail. “Our Government Relations office, which stems from the vision of commissioner (Bud) Selig, allows us to communicate quickly and efficiently with leaders in Washington on significant issues and to provide another important resource to our clubs.

“For example, our presence in Washington has helped us navigate issues pertaining to ballpark security, the fortification of our joint drug policy, greening and other topics on which we have made great strides over the last decade. With the re-establishment of a major league franchise in Washington during this time as well, our expanded presence in the nation’s capital has been invaluable in many ways.”

Some of the other key issues for MLB revolve around antitrust, copyright issues, television contracts and stadium funding.

According to OpenSecrets.org, the MLB Commissioner’s Office PAC raised $465,700 for the 2012 political cycle.

Historically, MLB’s PAC has given more money to Democratic candidates (58.9 percent) than Republican candidates (41.1 percent). The PAC’s top recipients for 2012 are the National Republican Senatorial Committee ($45,000), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ($30,000), the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ($30,000) and the National Republican Congressional Committee ($15,000).

Individual donors are limited to $5,000 per year and the teams with the largest contribution totals are the Giants ($46,750), Twins ($30,000) Rangers ($27,500) and Reds ($25,000). The Mariners ($6,000) and Yankees ($5,000) were the teams with the lowest donation totals and two organizations did not have donors—the Blue Jays, obviously, because they’re from Canada and the Dodgers, whose previous owners filed for bankruptcy before selling the team.

Candidates can receive up to $5,000 per election (primary, general or special) from a PAC. In 2012, nine candidates running for the House of Representatives received $10,000 from MLB’s PAC: Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), Steve Israel (D-NY), Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Dan Lungren (R-CA), Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Ben Chandler (D-KY) and Mary Bono Mack (R-CA). Just two candidates for the Senate received the full $10,000: Bob Corker (R-TN) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

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