Dem 51
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Magic's $50K Donation to DeSantis Has an Unpleasant Odor to It

In case all the headlines-of-the-wrong-kind about Ron DeSantis in the news sections aren't enough, he's also making headlines-of-the-wrong-kind in the sports sections right now.

It is not a big secret that the owners of the NBA's Orlando Magic, the DeVos family, are very active in Republican politics. And so it is not a huge surprise that the team made a hefty donation, $50,000, to DeSantis' super PAC. However, in view of the Governor's position that there was a lot of good to be found in the slave system, the contribution is causing a fair bit of controversy.

The least problematic explanation, such as it is, is that the Magic is just doing what companies do, and is playing both sides of the political aisle. This is certainly how the team tried to sell it when reporters started asking questions. "It was given as a Florida business in support of a Florida governor for the continued prosperity of Central Florida," explained Magic COO Joel Glass in a statement.

Given the DeVoses' love of Republicans, and the fact that they didn't give any money to any Democrats, this doesn't exactly pass the smell test. It also comes off as extremely tone deaf, given that the team's starting lineup is 80% Black, its roster is 80% Black, its coach is Black and its general manager is Black. It is not a great workplace environment if you're a Black person and you have reason to think the guy who signs your paychecks believes slavery had its upsides. Certainly, the NBA Players' Association, as well as some of the individual players, have made no secret of their unhappiness.

Another possibility, and it doesn't necessarily negate the "the DeVos family is kinda racist" explanation, is that if you are going to do business in Florida right now, you simply have no choice but to give some money to DeSantis. If so, then that would mean the Governor is basically guilty of a version of racketeering. "That's a nice basketball team you got there. I'd hate to see anything bad happen to it."

Whatever's going on here, it doesn't look good. It's also a reminder that: (1) the worlds of politics and business are now very much intertwined, for everyone to see and respond to, whether the business owners like it or not, and (2) almost everything bad that happens in Florida these days gets reported on and connected to DeSantis (justifiably so, usually), with something like 50% of those stories ending up as a reminder of the Governor's views on slavery. That may be free-of-charge earned media, but it doesn't seem to be helping DeSantis' campaign. Certainly, the polls don't think so. (Z)

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