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Owner of Major League Baseball team among funders of racist super PAC

White billionaire Charles Johnson is among those funding Black Americans for the President's Agenda and its outrageous racist radio ads.

San Francisco Giants outfielder Chris Shaw catches a fly ball at AT&T Park.
San Francisco Giants outfielder Chris Shaw catches a fly ball at AT&T Park in September. CREDIT: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

A shockingly racist radio ad from a super PAC calling itself Black Americans for the President’s Agenda went viral on Thursday evening. The spots, running on radio stations popular with black voters in Arkansas and Missouri, urge black women to back Republican Rep. French Hill in Arkansas’ 2nd congressional district, Republican Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley in his U.S. Senate campaign, and GOP candidates in general.

Their factually inaccurate argument: if Democrats accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual predation without evidence, black “men and boys” will be subject to “race verdicts, life sentences, and lynchings when a white girl screams ‘rape!'”

The donors bankrolling this committee, however, appear to be rich, conservative ideologues, not the actual “Black Americans” they claim to be.

The super PAC is lead by Vernon Robinson, a xenophobic former U.S. House candidate who made hundreds of thousands of dollars from running the 2016 Draft Ben Carson committee. Robinson told the Associated Press on Thursday that his group spent $50,000 on the ad buy.

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The group’s financial disclosures include a number of wealthy white conservatives. Most notable is GOP mega-donor and billionaire Charles B. Johnson, the retired chairman of Franklin Resources, Inc. and the principal owner of the San Francisco Giants baseball team, who gave $1,000.

Other top donations include $1,000 from Trish Duggan, an artist and the wife of pharmaceutical billionaire Robert Duggan, $1,000 from Arthur “Tim” Choate, an investor and game fishing enthusiast, and $1,000 from investor Norman Waite Jr.

While it is unusual for Democrats and Republicans to agree on anything these days, the ads drew significant criticism from both sides of the aisle. Hill tweeted that he condemned the “appalling” and “outrageous ad in the strongest terms.” His Democratic opponent, state Rep. Clarke Tucker, called the ad “disgraceful.”


UPDATE: The San Francisco Giants released a statement on Friday calling the ads “disturbing and divisive,” and stating that “The Giants’ reputation as one of the most inclusive and socially engaged professional sports teams in the nation speaks for itself. We are unaware of Mr. Johnson’s political donations because they are entirely separate from his stake in the Giants ownership group.” Johnson released his own statement, saying, “I had absolutely no knowledge that this donation would be used in this manner and I, like the Giants organization, strongly condemn any form of racism and in no way condone the advertisement that was created by this entity.” But Vernon Robinson contradicted this claim, telling the San Francisco Chronicle that he had detailed the plan to Johnson in a letter before he made his donation. “I assume he thought [the letter] was good enough to send a check.”