GOP member will not fight sale of Nats to Soros

Comments involving MLB misconstrued, aide says

June 29, 2005|By Jeff Barker | Jeff Barker,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - A House GOP committee chairman didn't mean to suggest that he would seek legislative redress against baseball if it selects a Washington Nationals ownership group that includes financier George Soros, an aide said yesterday.

Tom Davis, a Virginia Republican who chairs the Government Reform Committee, was quoted Monday in Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, saying that Major League Baseball could face a political fight if it selects Soros, who has bankrolled liberal causes.

Davis told Roll Call that if a Soros sale goes through, "I don't think it's the Nationals that get hurt. I think it's Major League Baseball that gets hurt. They enjoy all sorts of exemptions" from antitrust laws.

But a Davis aide said in an interview yesterday that the chairman was not contemplating action - even if baseball picks Soros along with a group that includes entrepreneur Jonathan Ledecky as the lead investor.

"He was just asked his opinion [about Soros], and he gave it. He put on his analysis hat," said Davis aide Rob White. "In no way has he suggested that he would do anything to revoke the sale or anything like that."

White also said there was no intention by Davis to try to revoke the antitrust exemption, which baseball uses to pool resources among teams and engage in other behavior that would not be permitted by other businesses.

The Ledecky group is among more than a half-dozen vying to buy the Nationals, now owned by Major League Baseball. Soros became a GOP target because he has been a critic of the Republican White House who has backed the liberalization of some drug laws.

Despite White's assurances, Capitol Hill Democrats were still concerned yesterday that Republicans were trying to intimidate baseball, aides said.

Yesterday, House Democratic Policy Committee Chairman George Miller urged the GOP "to keep partisan politics out of baseball."

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