Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, addressing his sport’s controversial campaign contributions to Cindy Hyde-Smith, said Tuesday that baseball will have more oversight of political donations going forward.
MLB on Sunday asked for a refund of $5,000 it donated to Hyde-Smith, a Mississippi Republican who is facing Democrat Mike Espy in a Senate runoff election on Tuesday. Earlier this month, Hyde-Smith told supporters that she’d be “on the front row” if one of her supporters there “invited me to a public hanging” — a remark many saw as an allusion to lynching.
Manfred, speaking at an event in Manhattan, said he regrets that MLB did not ask for the donation back sooner. Walmart, railroad owner Union Pacific and several other companies asked that their donations be returned last week, shortly after Hyde-Smith’s comments came to light. The commissioner said that Hyde-Smith’s comments were “completely at odds with the values that Major League Baseball has always, always embraced.”
The donation was made to Hyde-Smith by a lobbyist who works for MLB. Yahoo Sports reported Monday that the lobbyist could not attend a fundraiser for Sen. Mitch McConnell in mid-November and was asked to give to Hyde-Smith instead.
According to Yahoo’s report, MLB has donated more than $3.7 million to 321 members of Congress over the past 17 years.
Manfred said that in the past that MLB has given autonomy to lobbyists, but in the future donations would need to be approved in New York.