As the Oakland Athletics enter 2018 with the lowest payroll in professional baseball, John J. Fisher, the majority owner of the team, is adding thousands of dollars to the coffers of Republican candidates running for office, according to Federal Election Commission filings reviewed by FOX Business.
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Historically, the A’s are one of the stingiest Major League Baseball clubs and have struggled to make the playoffs over the past decade. Meanwhile, their owner has become one of the top Republican donors in a city known to support Democratic causes. Until now, little has been reported about Fisher’s involvement with politics, especially his recent push to support Republicans.
In the 2018 election cycle, Fisher, who is also president of his family's investment management company Pisces Inc. and the son of the founders of the Gap clothing retailer, has become the top individual contributor to the McCarthy Victory Fund, giving $247,000 to the joint fundraising operation that supports the re-election campaign of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., while adding funds to the Majority Committee PAC, a political action committee dedicated to keeping the House majority in the hands of GOP lawmakers. He has given minimally to Democratic representatives throughout the year, with his largest contribution of $5,400 going to the campaign of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
He has also quietly been a direct backer of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), the fundraising arm for the party in the House of Representatives. Since 2015, he has contributed more than $500,000 to the group chaired by Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, according to FEC filings. In 2015, he coughed up $243,000 to the Ryan-McCarthy Victory committee, a joint fundraiser that supports the campaigns of House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and McCarthy, among others.
Fisher and a spokeswoman for the Athletics did not return requests for comment at the time of publication.
As Fisher poured money into Republican causes, the Athletics finished last in the American League West in 2017 for a third season in a row. The biggest recent success they enjoyed was in 2014, when they earned a spot in the first-round wild card game but lost to the Kansas City Royals.
The Athletics payroll continues to dwell in the basement of Major League Baseball. According to Spotrac, a website dedicated to monitoring collective salaries of professional sports teams, the club’s 25-man roster has a combined salary of $53 million that is ranked last in the league. Compare that to the Boston Red Sox, who in total pay their players $198 million.
Fisher’s backing of mainly Republican foundations is unique because of the lawmakers who govern the cities that host his businesses.
Pisces is located in California’s 12th district, an area that has consistently voted for a Democratic House lawmaker since 1990 and is represented by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. A former speaker of the House under President Barack Obama, Pelosi has turned into a fierce critic of President Donald Trump and the entire Republican party. She has fought the president’s efforts to repeal the Obama-era immigration system known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which shields young undocumented immigrants from being deported. The participants of the program have been in limbo since the administration’s sudden announcement that the president had asked Congress to draw up a new plan. So far it has not done so.
The Athletics are located in California’s 13th district and represented by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., She too has been a critic of the president and the Republican agenda. She was one of the 192 Democrats who voted against the tax reform bill and recently voted no on the STOP School Violence Act, a bill that allows teachers to be trained to prevent school violence.