Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Hardball

George Soros is a billionnaire currency speculator and philanthropist; and, if you pay close attention to politics, you know he spent over $20 million last year trying to defeat George W. Bush and elect Democrats in other races as well. Now he'd like to buy a stake in the Washington Nationals, and the Republicans in Congress are threatening to punish MLB if the league allows that to happen.

From Roll Call, via the DCCC:

"I think Major League Baseball understands the stakes," said Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis (R), the Northern Virginia lawmaker who recently convened high-profile steroid hearings. "I don't think they want to get involved in a political fight."

Davis, whose panel also oversees District of Columbia issues, said that if a Soros sale went through, "I don't think it's the Nats that get hurt. I think it's Major League Baseball that gets hurt. They enjoy all sorts of exemptions" from anti-trust laws.

Indeed, Hill Republicans could potentially make life difficult for MLB in a variety of ways. In addition to being exempt from anti-trust rules, baseball is still under scrutiny over the steroid issue....

Rep. John Sweeney (R-N.Y.), vice chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that covers the District of Columbia budget, said if Soros buys the team and seeks public funding for the new stadium or anything else, the GOP attitude would be, "Let him pay for it."

"We're not going to interfere with [the sale], but from a fan's perspective, who needs the politics?" Sweeney said.

Understand that there's nothing unusual about a baseball owner being actively involved in political fundraising. Fred Vincy reveals that 13 current or former MLB owners and their families are Bush Rangers or Pioneers, meaning each raised at least $100K for his campaign. George Steinbrenner was convicted of making illegal contributions to Richard Nixon as well as obstruction of justice. Fred Malek, perhaps the frontrunner to buy the Nationals, was once an advisor to Bush the Elder and also Deputy Director of Nixon's Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP). That's OK. Congress has no complaints about any of that.

Do business with a sworn enemy of Dubya's GOP, however, and let's just say the esteemed committee chairs would strongly suggest that the league might reconsider. Mmm. We wouldn't want a review of the anti-trust exemption or more hearings on the steroid issue, now would we? Ah, Bud. Of course we know we can trust you to do the right thing....

8 Comments:

At 6/28/2005 10:12 AM, Blogger Batgirl said...

Yes, but FW, remember it's all in the name of freedom!

 
At 6/28/2005 11:45 AM, Blogger amr said...

This is why I left politics. One on hand, you've got a blowhard billionaire that would probably make overtly political statements through the team. (Though I don't know that.) On the other hand, you've got grandstanding who threaten about something that is none of their damned business anyways. Pox on both!

And there is a big difference between being a big political donor and being George Soros, who basically led a parallel campaign. If it was some no-name rich guy who gave Kerry and MoveOn a hundred thousand a piece, it would not be an issue.

To make a strained parallel, I wouldn't want Bill O'Reilly owning a baseball team either.

 
At 6/28/2005 12:27 PM, Anonymous Jim H. said...

I wish congresspersons of all stripes would just shut up about steriods and baseball ownership. How, I ask, does an owner use his or her team to make political hay? Can't recall this ever having been a problem (Lee Greenwood's anthem aside). Gene Autry used to wear cowboy hats in the owner's box. A subtle endorsement of Reagan and Goldwater! Marge Schott carried a little yapping dog around at Reds stadium. Hmmm...a nod to Ross Perot?

 
At 6/28/2005 12:52 PM, Anonymous Jim H. said...

OK, Schott's dog was a Saint Bernard. Not Perot, then. Marge did say unfavorable things about minorities, so I suppose we could infer...Oh, never mind.

 
At 6/28/2005 1:37 PM, Blogger SBG said...

This is simply outrageous. But, it's also not surprising.

 
At 6/28/2005 2:26 PM, Blogger amr said...

Off the top of my head, Soros could say things about the President and have them carried on ESPN. Then ESPN would feel it would have to give the President's response. Then Buck/McCarver will bring it up during the game of the week, especially if Jeter's not playing. The constant encroachment of the political on the apolitical (perhaps more specifically the partisan on the disinterested) continues. To save my mental health, I hope it stops. Baseball has been my refuge, and so this is the last place I want things going.

 
At 6/28/2005 5:23 PM, Blogger frightwig said...

Soros gave a lot of money to various campaigns and political action groups. I can't say that I recall ever seeing him on a TV soapbox denouncing the President. He would be a minority partner in the group that wants to buy the Nats; he wouldn't be substantially different from the many owners who have been actively involved in Bush campaigns. I mean, the top of the Cardinals organization is riddled with Bush cronies, but the only political bent to the Cards operations on the field or on TV/radio, as far as I can tell, is that Bush threw out the first pitch of the season in St. Louis this year.

I don't think Soros owning a stake in the Nats would be, or should be, any kind of problem. This is just a case of the party in power throwing its weight around, probably to look out for Fred Malek's interests as well as to punish an enemy of the President.

 
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