Major League Baseball made a $1,000 contribution to a Minnesota congressman who has been criticized for past comments about women and minorities, the organization confirmed on Wednesday.
Before entering politics, Rep. Jason LewisJason Mark LewisTwo swing-district Democrats raise impeachment calls after whistleblower reports GOP Senate candidate said Republicans have ‘dual loyalties’ to Israel The Hill’s Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch MORE (R) was a radio host known for making controversial comments. Lewis has reportedly lamented that men can no longer call women “sluts,” said critically that white Americans were not reproducing at the same rate as Latinos, suggested that abolishing slavery was an overreach by the federal government, and that women voters who care about abortion and gay marriage are “nonthinking.”
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Lewis previously defended controversial comments made on his show by saying that he was paid to be “provocative.” He lost his reelection campaign earlier this month.
The donation was made in August 2017, according to federal election records.
MLB communications chief Pat Courtney said the organization was suspending its program of political contributions while they work on putting “more rigorous vetting procedures in place.”
“In July of 2017, during a non-election year, lobbyists for Major League attended a fundraiser (for $1,000) as an opportunity to meet a new member of Congress who had been appointed to two committees with jurisdiction over matters relevant to Major League Baseball,” Courtney said.
“At the time of this event, no one at Major League Baseball was aware of the offensive comments made by Mr. Lewis … Had we been aware of Mr. Lewis’ comments, which are at odds with our values, we would not have supported him or attended the event.”
The Washington Post first reported the MLB statement.
The league came under fire recently for donating to Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) amid backlash over her recent comment that she’d be in the “front row” of a “public hanging” if invited.
The MLB requested that their $5,000 maximum donation to Hyde-Smith be returned earlier this week.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the MLB’s political action committee has donated approximately $2.4 million to candidates since 2002. Those donations have been split almost evenly between Democratic and Republican candidates.
A representative for Lewis did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.
-Updated 6:03 p.m.