By Lisa Graves and Evan Vorpahl
Baseball fans watching the All-Star game on Tuesday may notice an expensive ad buy attacking Major League Baseball for moving the game from Atlanta to Denver in response to concerns over Georgia’s new laws making it harder for Americans to vote. If you’re wondering who paid for those ads, it is a dark money group called “Consumers Research.”
It is a previously defunct non-profit that has been deployed by mystery donors to attack “woke” corporations that dare to object to regressive voter suppression measures being imposed by allies of Donald Trump, despite no evidence of systemic voter fraud or any significant fraud whatsoever in the 2020 election that Trump lost resoundingly. A bipartisan group of officials in every state certified the presidential election results.
The MLB did the right thing in moving the All-Star game, although it has been relatively less active than the NBA, the WNBA, and the NFL in standing up to racism. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred was reportedly under enormous pressure from the MLB players union, Black players, and other key figures like the Dodgers’ manager, Dave Roberts, an African American who was scheduled to manage the National League team this year and threatened to boycott the game if it was played in Atlanta.
The reality is that most of the billionaires who own MLB teams have donated to many of the Republican politicians peddling debunked voter fraud claims and pushing voter restrictions.
Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick, for example, is a multi-billionaire who donated to a Qanon politician, Lauren Boebert, who tried to nullify the election and was seen touring the Capitol before January 6 with some of the people who later invaded the building. He has long pushed extreme, right-wing causes. Just last year, Baxter Holmes of ESPN also detailed a variety of ways some of the owners of pro sports teams use dark money groups to try to hide their political agendas.
It is also noteworthy that the All-Star game is being played at Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies, owned by Richard and Charles Monfort, heirs to a meatpacking fortune who donate almost exclusively to GOP politicians. (The field is named for the corporation created by the extreme right-wing Colorado family whose fortune helped launch the Heritage Foundation, which has fueled claims of voter fraud.) The Monforts will get even richer by hosting the All-Star game. (The ballpark of the Braves is named after a bank, Truist, made from the merger of two huge banks that got billions in the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), though they paid it back.) Perhaps there might have been better places to move the game, although not Texas with its version of voter suppression legislation back on the table this summer—even after the GOP leaders of the state already made it difficult to vote last November by allowing only one ballot drop-off location per county, no matter how many voters resided in that county.
Despite the secret cash funding this attack on the MLB, “baseball has always been political” as Peter Dreier detailed in his piece about the move of the game from Atlanta. He and Dave Zirin also wrote about the growing movement of pro athletes, including MLB players, around Black Lives Matter. Consumers’ Research just has a big secret funder or two who do not like any corporation objecting to voter suppression. The question is who.
True North Research has looked at the history and track record of the group running the ads against the MLB, Nike, American Airlines, Coca Cola, and Ticketmaster. That report is below.