The Honorable Rob Manfred
Commissioner, Major League Baseball
The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball
1271 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY, 10020
Dear Commissioner Manfred,
The American Conservative Union writes to you on behalf of the millions of Americans across the country who are members of our organization and those who align with our views regarding the values enshrined in the US Constitution. Our country is unique; it remains the only nation founded on the proposition that people can and should govern themselves. This proposition is predicated on our ability to conduct free and fair elections so the will of the people can be known and relied upon when choosing elected representatives to Congress and the respective state legislatures.
Throughout our nation’s history, there have been some who have sought to end the American experiment in democratic self-government. Whether motivated by socialist, fascist or other illiberal authoritarian impulses, these radicals despise the virtues upon which free people can live in harmony. And you have played into their hands.
Your comments regarding the improvements to the Georgia election law are baseless and contrary to reality. Worse, your misguided comments and actions have harmed the good people of Atlanta, especially the African American community. Therefore, we urge you to publicly correct the record on Georgia’s election reform law.
It is important that you do not stay silent since you contributed to the deeply flawed and misleading perceptions about the contents of the bill. Because you added to this already dishonest discussion by abruptly deciding (without reading the law as it would seem evident) to remove the 2021 MLB Draft and All-Star Game from the city of Atlanta. Moreover, the highly politicized group of radicals who aim to upend the great traditions of America must not believe they can continue to shame decent people into making false confessions, simply to avoid being defamed or harmed economically.
After the recent media exposure of the actual substance of the Georgia law, we assume that you now understand how you have contributed to the false narrative about Georgia Senate Bill 202. Nevertheless, here are some of the facts, of which you clearly were not aware when you opined on the bill:
- The law authorizes the use of drop boxes as a legal means by which to return absentee ballots. This was never an option before 2020 when the Georgia Board of Elections made an emergency accommodation to allow drop boxes during the height of the Covid-19 lockdowns.
- Election workers, not political groups, can set up food and water stations at the polls. This provision is solely a prohibition against soliciting votes within 150 feet of the polling place. Nothing in the law prevents people from eating or drinking in line.
- Any registered voter requesting an absentee ballot will need to write his or her driver’s license or state ID number on the application to receive a ballot. This is an important transition away from subjective signature verification to objective identity verification, and the law lists many alternative sources of proof for people who don’t have a driver’s license or state ID number.
- The time period to request an absentee ballot has been reduced from 180 days to 78 days. Any argument that this shorter time period will discourage people from voting is not grounded in reality. This change simply ensures that fewer people who request absentee ballots will move, die, or change their minds leading up to an election. It is a safeguard against mistakes and fraud.
These are reforms that have long been supported by a broad, bipartisan group of leaders for years. Yet recently, some have seen fit to make false claims about the value of these reforms, without any evidence whatsoever. The Georgia law in fact expands access to voting and gives wider availability on early voting, more so than some of the biggest MLB markets in the country. The law also includes reforms that are supported by large majorities of Americans; as the AP found over 70% of Americans support presenting some form of Government ID in order to cast a ballot in our elections.
In another poll conducted by the Daily Wire, a majority support the key provisions in the Georgia law and oppose corporations and sports teams that inject themselves into politics. In light of this information, we encourage you to revisit your decision to move the All-Star Game to Colorado and ask you to return it to Georgia.
Some of our supporters have asked whether Major League Baseball’s delay in making an appropriate apology might be related to the continued human rights abuses perpetrated by the ruling Chinese Communist Party. It is well known that MLB engages in business with the enemies of the very freedoms that Americans care about. This makes your criticism of the Georgia law seem more like an attempt to cleanse MLB’s own conscience while continuing to profit from its relationship with the Chinese Communist Party (even as Beijing boasts a record of abuse towards millions of innocent human beings, including Muslims in the interior of the country and the people of Hong Kong who only wish to be free).
MLB’s recent public condemnation of a law it did not understand, and the resulting harm to the city of Atlanta, reveal the dangers associated with exercising your authority in an attempt to appease the Left. Your virtue signaling has robbed the people of Georgia of $100 million, especially impacting minority businesses that benefit from MLB’s presence in Atlanta. The appetite of radicals is insatiable, and their ultimate target is the destruction of our nation’s freedoms.
The record must be corrected. We urge you to publicly acknowledge the mistaken assumptions and brazen mistruths propagated by your organization against Georgia’s election reform law. We also call on you to stand down and desist from threatening other governors and state legislators whose only motivation is to ensure that future elections are conducted fairly and appropriately.
We ask that you meet with us to discuss this matter. To continue pushing unpopular policies that harm future elections will only threaten the very future of Major League Baseball.
— The American Conservative Union
Major League Baseball Commissioner Responds to ACU Letter
Commissioner Manfred spoke with ACU leadership, Chairman Matt Schlapp and Executive Director Dan Schneider regarding the decision to move the July 13, 2021 All-Star game from Atlanta to Denver. The discussion was enlightening and we look forward to more productive meetings in the near future.
Meanwhile, MLB, the Players’ Union, and Commissioner Manfred have been sued in federal court by the Texas-based Job Creators Network (JCN). The suit is for $100 million in damages – the estimated economic impact to Atlanta – and $1 billion in punitive damages. JCN also demands that MLB moves the All-Star game back to Atlanta.
In response, MLB claims that JCN does not have legal standing to bring this suit and that it misread case law regarding MLB’s classification as a state actor that violated the constitution in moving the game. According to Law360,
[B]usinesses are not a protected class, and [JCN] failed to allege discriminatory intent or the potential for future harm if the game remains in Denver, the league said. JCN also apparently overlooked the possibility that moving the game back to Atlanta would actually deprive the group’s Denver members of business, the union added in its response.
Former AG Ed Meese and GA Gubernatorial Candidate Vernon Green each wrote an amicus brief in support of JCN.
In a June 10 hearing, U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni said that JCN did not have legal standing to challenge the move to Denver or show that there would be irreparable harm.