Dodgers' monitor Freeman has conflict of interest

LOS ANGELES – Frank McCourt is "being subjected to discriminatory and unfair treatment through a process designed to reach a predetermined outcome," an attorney for the Los Angeles Dodgers owner claimed in a letter to Major League Baseball on Tuesday, after it was discovered an assistant to monitor Tom Schieffer had worked for Jamie McCourt, Frank's ex-wife.

Dick Freeman, the former president of the San Diego Padres who'd been appointed to aid Schieffer, met with Dodgers personnel Monday and "reviewed confidential Dodgers financial information," according to the letter, before revealing the potential conflict of interest.

Jamie McCourt leaves the courtroom during her 2010 divorce trial. Her legal team was consulted by Dick Freeman, who was later appointed by MLB to help the league monitor Dodgers' finances.
(Getty Images)

Schieffer reported Freeman's prior relationship with Jamie McCourt to commissioner Bud Selig, who ordered Freeman removed from the assignment.

Robert A. Sacks, of the firm Sullivan & Cromwell, in a letter to MLB attorney Bradley Ruskin obtained by Yahoo! Sports, claimed the oversight offered more evidence that Selig's takeover and investigation of the Dodgers was "without appropriate diligence, independence or care."

Freeman, according to sources, had consulted for Jamie McCourt's lawyers leading to the McCourts' divorce trial.

According to the letter, Freeman was hired by MLB as an additional monitor. Sacks pointed out: "The vetting process conducted by the Commissioner and MLB either (i) did not inquire about Mr. Freeman's conflicts, or (ii) inquired but disregarded the conflict. (The alternative is that Mr. Freeman concealed his conflict, which we presume was not the case.)"

After meeting with team personnel, the letter stated, "Several hours later, Mr. Schieffer came back and informed Dodger personnel that Mr. Freeman would not be involved any longer …

"Neither the Commissioner nor anyone from MLB has called Mr. McCourt to discuss any of this."

On Monday, a letter from Selig to McCourt stated that Freeman had been appointed in case Schieffer was unable to be reached, and that he was "authorized to exercise any of the authority of the Monitor."

Major League Baseball officials said Tuesday they were unaware of the conflict until Freeman broached the subject during a private meeting Monday with Schieffer.

"Once the potential conflict was brought to our attention by Mr. Freeman, we immediately determined to not proceed with his appointment," said Rob Manfred, MLB executive vice president.

McCourt is in New York, where he will attend the owners meetings Wednesday and Thursday. Schieffer is expected to review the Dodgers situation for the Executive Council in that time.