Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig would never – never! -- think of rooting for the New York Yankees over the Philadelphia Phillies during the 2009 World Series, which begins tonight at Yankees Stadium.
But Selig is hardly agnostic when politics are concerned. The political action committee controlled by his office finds itself in a decidedly New York state of mind, according to a Center for Responsive Politics analysis of federal campaign finance data.
Since its inception during the 2002 election cycle, the Major League Baseball Commissioner's Office Political Action Committee has donated about two-and-a-half times as much money to federal candidates from New York ($51,136) than to those from Pennsylvania ($22,000), CRP has found.
In all, Major League Baseball has contributed money to 14 New York politicos versus six from Pennsylvania. Such donations are part of a broader political influence effort by the baseball commissioner’s office that this decade has featured hundreds of individual campaign contributions to federal candidates and committees. It's also included more than $9 million in federal lobbying expenditures intended to affect issues ranging from copyright law to broadcast rights to immigration.
But in hope of swaying governmental affairs in Washington, D.C., Major League Baseball cash consistently travels first through New York.
Among New York's congressional members, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) have scored the most money from the Major League Baseball Commissioner's Office PAC, collecting $9,500 and $9,000 respectively. Both are relatively powerful officials with congressional committee chairmanships to their credit.
At $11,500, Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania – a long-time Republican who in April became a Democrat – alone accounted for nearly half of the Pennsylvania's baseball bucks.
When federal politicians' leadership PACs are considered, New York wins again: Empire State interests snagged $14,000 compared to the Keystone State's $9,500.
During the past three election cycles, the Major League Baseball Commissioner's Office PAC has spent more than $1 million on its operation, including contributions to politicians, party committees and leadership PACs, campaign contribution data indicates.
In this current two-year election cycle, the baseball PAC has already spent more than $200,000. Of that, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committee each have received $15,000.
In general, the baseball PAC gives more money to Democrats than Republicans, although this pro-Democrat margin proved relatively narrow during the 2002, 2004 and 2006 election cycles.
That changed dramatically during the 2008 election cycle, when Democrats received about $2 from the PAC for every $1 a Republican took in. The 2010 election cycle is even more lopsided, with Democratic interests and candidates the recipients of 72 percent of donations from the Major League Baseball Commissioner's Office PAC.
A notable exception: Baseball’s PAC has this decade donated a handsome $15,000 to the campaign account of Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), plus another $3,500 to Bunning’s leadership PAC. Bunning, who says he will not seek reelection next year after 23 years in the Senate, just so happens to be a Hall of Fame pitcher.
As for donors to the baseball PAC, leaders of both the Yankees and Phillies have indeed ponied up cash during the current election cycle, although the Yankees enjoy a modest lead in this category, too, as team owner George Steinbrenner and managing general partner Harold Steinbrenner each donated $5,000.
Phillies President David Montgomery, meanwhile, contributed $5,000 – the lone contribution from his club.
For the record, the Yankees have won 26 World Series to the Phillies' two. Philadelphia is, however, defending champion, while New York's American League squad hasn't won a Fall Classic since Bill Clinton roamed the White House.
(The chart below indicates the amount of money the Major League Baseball Commissioner's Office PAC has donated this decade to federal candidates in New York and Pennsylvania.)
Schumer, Charles (D)
Towns, Edolphus (D)
Boehlert, Sherwood (R)
Weiner, Anthony (D)
Meeks, Gregory (D)
Reynolds, Tom (R)
Arcuri, Michael (D)
Serrano, Jose (D)
Nadler, Jerrold (D)
Rangel, Charles (D)
Gillibrand, Kirsten (D)
Clinton, Hillary (D)
Clarke, Yvette (D)
Zanzi, Italo Andres (R)
Specter, Arlen (D)
Santorum, Rick (R)
Schwartz, Allyson (D)
Gekas, George (R)
Hart, Melissa (R)
Fitzpatrick, Michael (R)