As I mentioned in the earlier post today, what vexes me most about this whole Cindy Hyde-Smith donation fiasco is MLB’s poor response to it. The explanations for the donation have been piecemeal and less-than-explanatory thus far. My sense is that it’s because, as of this morning, MLB didn’t really have a satisfactory person to blame and no easy way to say, with its usual sort of comment, that it was sorry, etc. etc. I mean, when a donation is made from the “Commissioners Office PAC,” the world of people who could’ve bungled it is . . . small and important.
Commissioner Rob Manfred just took a step in the direction of placing blame, however. He’s blaming MLB’s lobbyists. Lindsey Adler of The Athletic was at an appearance Manfred made in New York a few minutes ago and passes on his comments:
MLB has had its own lobbying outfit in D.C. for over two years. It also retains the law firm BakerHostetler in Washington to serve as its PAC treasurer and, it would appear, to handle some lobbying duties as well (the in-house lobbyist for MLB is a former BakerHostetler attorney too).
It’s quite plausible, I will note, that the lobbyists were acting on their own and that Manfred did not know about the donation or appreciate the significance of it until after the firestorm hit. Which may absolve him of the specific donation in this case, but which says less-than-flattering things about how Major League Baseball approaches its political operations and the amount of oversight it exercises. I mean, if you’re going to “always *always* embrace” a certain set of political values, you had best make sure you’re embracing them in ways that matter.
For what it’s worth, I have reached out to both Major League Baseball and to BakerHostetler with some specific questions about all of this. We’ll see what answers we get. At the very least, I expect MLB to issues a more thorough statement today.