GOP senator took thousands of dollars from MLB — then accused it of 'economic terrorism'

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Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) criticized Major League Baseball for protesting Georgia's voter suppression law.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) accused Major League Baseball of engaging in "economic terrorism" over the league's decision to move its 2021 All-Star Game out of Georgia in protest against the state's new voter suppression law.

The law limits the use of ballot drop boxes, requires ID to vote by mail, and gives Republican state lawmakers more control over election administration. Critics fear Republican partisans could interfere with voting in heavily Democratic counties in the state.

Speaking during a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday on "Jim Crow 2021: The Latest Assault on the Right to Vote," Grassley said:

When you make political comments and it hurts people's pocketbooks, it ought to be something everybody'd be offended by. Most infamously, Major League Baseball moved the All-Star Game from Atlanta, a move that's likely to cost the city's economy a hundred million jobs, and that's affecting the income of Georgians, and probably some jobs in Georgia. ... When partisans and companies collude to ruin the livelihoods of their opponents, there's a term for that: It's economic terrorism.

A tourism industry official in Georgia told CNN she believes the loss of the All-Star Game could cost Georgia $100 million in tourism, not jobs, and the $100 million figure is listed in Grassley's prepared remarks.

However, although he is now criticizing the MLB over its involvement in politics by protesting against the Georgia law, Grassley has taken tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions from the league over the years.

In 2016, the last time Grassley was up for reelection, he received $10,000 from the MLB's Political Action Committee, according to records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. He also received $5,000 from the league in 2010, and $7,000 between 2004 and 2008, adding up to a total of $22,000.

Grassley is one of a number of Republicans who have criticized the MLB for moving the All-Star Game, and just the latest to blame Democrats and voting rights activists for corporate pushback against the law, rather than acknowledge the charges of the law's opponents about its suppressive measures.

Republicans have sought retribution against companies for using their influence to oppose voter suppression efforts across the country.

GOP Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri, and Mike Lee of Utah introduced legislation this month to strip the MLB of its anti-trust exemption.

Roll Call reported that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) wants the House to cancel its food services contract with its vendor, Sodexo, after the company signed a statement calling voting a "basic and fundamental right" and saying, "We all should feel a responsibility to defend the right to vote and to oppose any discriminatory legislation or measures that restrict or prevent any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot."

And Republicans in the Georgia House tried unsuccessfully to repeal a tax break Delta Air Lines receives after the company issued a statement opposing what it called Georgia's "unacceptable" voter suppression law.

Josh Israel contributed to this report.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.