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Clippings: More scrutiny as NBA owners hide political donations

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With election day coming up, it’s as timely as ever.

LA Clippers v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

You probably don’t need to be reminded at this point, but Tuesday is Election Day in the United States. If you are eligible to vote and registered, and you haven’t voted yet, get ready to do your civic duty.

Amidst a truly significant presidential election and a slew of propositions to vote up or down in California, financial donations to politicians and political groups and causes are being scrutinized in a way they’ve scarcely been before, and that’s having a knock-on effect.

While recent reports detailing personal political donations among NBA team owners have revealed LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer has made the most political contributions over the last five years among that group, to the tune of nearly $8 million, there’s tons of dark money, which can’t be traced, sloshing around.

An ESPN story as part of a wider series on the topic Thursday went into detail about the dark money aspect, where wealthy and publicly prominent people like NBA team owners funnel their political contributions through Political Action Committees to make their donations anonymous.

It’s all legal, of course, but there is something profoundly uncomfortable with these public figures hiding some, much or all of their political donations by using end-arounds.

At a time when the political climate is as polarized as it’s been for nearly a century, and when social protests around the country to denounce institutional racism became a particularly huge force among NBA players, some team owners are playing a far bigger role in fueling political races and avoiding the public glare while they do it. Why does it matter? Because in order to keep making money, at least some owners are trying to elude accountability and in some cases, making donations that endorse positions and candidates who are diametrically opposed to what many employees and fans want. You shouldn’t be able to have your cake and eat it, too. If you want to make a stand, you should have to do it transparently.

More news for Friday:

  • A look at the Clippers’ cap situation: Clipperholics had a nice breakdown of where the Clippers may — or may not — have salary cap room, depending on where it’s set for next season.
  • League, union likely to extend deadline: In boring-but-important news, the NBA and NBPA are expected to extend their deadline to opt out of the Collective Bargaining Agreement beyond Friday, so they can keep talking about when they’ll restart the season, among other important topics.
  • Is coaching abuse of players widespread? It’s a difficult subject, but this is a fantastic column from Etan Thomas at The Undefeated, as he details the trauma of coaches whose conduct goes way over the line and the fraught racial dynamics of many of those interactions.
  • Finally, a sports moment we can all jeer together: It’s the Los Angeles Dodgers’ moment, for obvious reasons, but the Chicago White Sox, who have assembled a fun, dynamic roster, have been universally jeered for hiring Tony La Russa, who is 76 and retired 10 years ago, as their next manager.