Senator Marco Rubio challenged Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred to give up his membership to Augusta National Golf Club in the midst of his league’s actions regarding Georgia’s new voting law.
Rubio (R-FL) sent a scathing letter to Manfred following MLB’s decision to pull the All-Star Game and the MLB Draft out of Georgia due to a voting law that Governor Brian Kemp (R) insists actually expands access to voting.
“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” Manfred said in a statement that showed little understanding of the law.
The move had Rubio fired up.
“I write to ask you whether you intend to maintain your membership at Augusta National Golf Club. As you are well aware, the exclusive members-only club is located in the State of Georgia,” the senator wrote.
ESPN coverage of the Masters in 2020 indicates Manfred was in attendance at the golf club along with “a few hundred patrons” of which “most of them were presumably members.”
Critics of the MLB Commissioner’s move in pulling the All-Star game out of Georgia have argued that New York, where the baseball Hall of Fame and their headquarters are located, actually has more restrictive voter laws.
In New York state there are fewer early voting days than in Georgia and a restriction on passing out food and water to voters waiting in line, kindnesses which could sway a voters decision and are clear electioneering violations.
New York also requires an excuse to request an absentee ballot, whereas Georgia does not.
“It’s jaw-dropping to see powerful American institutions not just permit themselves to be bullied, but join in the bullying themselves,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
“Wealthy corporations have no problem operating in New York, for example, which has fewer days of early voting than Georgia, requires excuses for absentee ballots, and restricts electioneering via refreshments.”
Georgia’s Cobb County is set to lose more than $100 million in tourism revenue due to MLB’s decision.
Kemp had told lawmakers in developing the law to make it “easy to vote” but “hard to cheat,” as he suggested a photo ID requirement for absentee ballots rather than signature verification, a subjective practice.
Manfred’s decision marks a history of MLB siding with cheating under his tenure, including the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal in which he refused to punish players who cheated their way to a World Series victory in 2017, as well as allegations of juicing baseballs to improve offensive output, something Manfred has denied.
Rubio wasn’t content to challenge Manfred’s decision which he said “reeks of hypocrisy.”
He also provided the likely outcome of the challenge.
“I am under no illusion you intend to resign as a member from Augusta National Golf Club,” Marco Rubio fired back.
“To do so would require a personal sacrifice, as opposed to the woke corporate virtue signaling of moving the All-Star Game from Atlanta.”
The Florida senator didn’t let up, calling out MLB’s hypocrisy when it comes to taking a stand against Georgia as opposed to real enemies of human rights like China.
“Since Major League Baseball now appears eager to use its ‘platform’ to demonstrate ‘unwavering support’ for fundamental human rights,” he asked, “will you cease your relationship with the Chinese Government, which at this very moment is committing genocide against the Uyghurs Muslims in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR)?”
“Taking the All-Star game out of Georgia is an easy way to signal virtues without significant financial fallout,” Rubio continued. “But speaking out against the Chinese Communist Party would involve a significant loss of revenue and being closed out of a lucrative market.”
Businesses like Rodney’s Jamaican Soul Food, who called the MLB boycott “crushing” as they’re “trying to build back from a pandemic.”
Maybe Manfred can think about that while he’s living it up on the links of Augusta National.
But I wouldn’t bet on it.
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