MLB follows San Francisco Giants owner's lead, makes controversial political donation

The MLB front office made a controversial political donation this week, following the lead of <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/teams/sfo" data-ylk="slk:San Francisco Giants">San Francisco Giants</a> owner Charles B. Johnson. (Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
The MLB front office made a controversial political donation this week, following the lead of San Francisco Giants owner Charles B. Johnson. (Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

Just one day after receiving a donation from San Francisco Giants owner Charles B. Johnson, Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith has received another donation from the baseball world — this time from the MLB front office.

According to Judd Legum of Popular Information, an FEC report filed this week revealed the Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball PAC donated $5,000 to her campaign, the legal maximum amount.

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Per the report, the Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball PAC was established in 2002 and was formed “as the sport endured a number of potentially crippling controversies, including the threat of a player’s strike and fan anger over the possible contraction of two teams.”

The news comes just one day after Johnson and his wife, Ann, also donated $2,700 each to Hyde-Smith’s campaign.

Who is Cindy Hyde-Smith?

Hyde-Smith was appointed by Mississippi governor Phil Bryant to fill the Senate seat vacated by ailing Sen. Thad Cochran, which made her the first woman to represent Mississippi in the U.S. Senate. She had previously served as Mississippi’s Agriculture Commissioner. She is currently in a runoff in Mississippi against Democrat Mike Epsy, which will determine the final Senate seat in the 2018 midterm elections.

She has a history of controversial conduct, the most recent from a campaign rally earlier this month where she was seen on video joking with a supporter about happily being his guest for a public hanging.

“I’d be in the front row,” she exclaimed on video. She has since apologized, but has lost support from several corporations, including Walmart.

She has also been seen wearing a Confederate rebel hat in a Facebook photo.

Many have seen Johnson’s donation as insensitive, as he’s the central figure in the Giants organization with a 25 percent ownership stake. He has made several controversial donations in the past, too, some that the Giants have tried to distance themselves from.

Not only can Johnson’s donation make it awkward for Giants fans — considering San Francisco is one of the more diverse and liberal-leaning cities in the United States — but it could make for an awkward situation for the entire league and baseball fans across the country.

Via ESPN’s Buster Olney, a MLB spokesperson commented on the donation Sunday morning.

This statement doesn’t explain much, if anything. Especially since the record in Popular Info’s report shows that MLB’s donation was made on November 23. That’s after Hyde-Smith made her controversial comments, and after several other large corporations had asked for their donations back. MLB’s comment provided no explanation as to why the donation was made after Hyde-Smith’s comments, and when exactly MLB decided to ask for it back.

While the MLB front office has donated to many political candidates on both sides of the aisle during this past campaign — including Ted Cruz, Dianne Feinstein, Jeff Flake and more — donating to a candidate who has fallen into hot water like Hyde-Smith can make for a weird look for the league as a whole.


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