By Andrew Barr - 05/04/06 12:00 AM EDT
Republicans in Congress who last year threatened to block George Soros from buying the Washington Nationals because of his ties to Democrats may be in for a surprise. Theodore Lerner, who was selected by Major League Baseball to own the Nationals, also has ties to Democrats, though on a much smaller scale.
Lerner donated $1,000 to Vice President Al Gore (D-Tenn.) in 1999, $1,000 to Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) in 1994, $1,000 to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) in 1991 and $3,000 to former Rep. Sidney Yates (D-Ill.) from 1989 to 1992.
Lerner’s son Mark, who reportedly will head baseball operations, gave $500 to Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) in 2003. He also gave $2,000 each to Mark Kennedy Shriver of Maryland and Kate Hanley of Virginia, both Democrats, in their failed congressional bids in 2002 and 2004, respectively.
The Lerners have also given to Republicans. Theodore Lerner has given $2,500 to Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) since 1994. Mark Lerner gave $1,000 to Davis and to President Bush in the 2004 cycle. In total, they have given $10,500 to Democrats and $4,500 to Republicans.
It was Davis, chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, who said last year that Soros should not be allowed to be a part owner of the Nationals. Some Republicans went as far as to suggest that Major League Baseball should lose its antitrust exemption if it allowed Soros to have a piece of the Nationals. After those comments attracted criticism, Republicans softened their position on the issue.
Soros was part of the bid by entrepreneur Jonathan Ledecky, which fell short. Soros contributed more than $20 million to defeat President Bush in 2004.