It’s baseball’s opening week, and as we tune in to the Cardinals, Cubs and White Sox, it's interesting to see how these teams play when it comes to politics. The Sunlight Foundation, a good government group based in Washington, researched how much money 29 of 30 Major League Baseball organizations (except Canada’s Toronto Blue Jays) have donated to political campaigns since 1990.
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“Politicians are certainly aware of where that money is coming from because they have to list their employer when they make those contributions,” says the foundation’s Kathy Kiely, who helped compile the statistics. Topping the list is the Baltimore Orioles, which have donated $4.5 million since 1990. At the bottom is the Oakland Athletics at $33,000. As far as Illinois teams, or teams with many Illinois fans, are concerned, the St. Louis Cardinals came in 14th with $309,000. The Chicago Cubs are listed 16th with $248,000 and the White Sox 17th with $234,000.
Kiely said what she found most interesting was how Illinois’ teams treated President Obama in the 2008 election, particularly the White Sox, of which the president is fond. “I think I found only one contribution to Barack Obama in the White Sox organization,” she said. Jerry Reinsdorf, chairman of the White Sox and Chicago Bulls, donated $2,500 to Republican John McCain. The Cubs were nicer to Obama. Former manager Dusty Baker, who led the Cubs in 2003 to Game 7 of the National League Championship Series, but missed the World Series, donated $1,000 to Obama’s U.S. Senate Campaign in 2004. Former first baseman Derrek Lee and his wife combined to donate nearly $10,000 to Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.