“One’s a liar and the other’s convicted,” Billy Martin once famously said of Reggie Jackson and George Steinbrenner, citing the latter’s 1974 guilty plea to charges of making illegal campaign contributions to the Committee To Reelect President Richard M. Nixon (or C.R.E.E.P. for short). With that conviction in mind, the Associated Press today revealed their results of a Freedom of Information Act request made last July following Steinbrenner’s death, one of the juicier items being details surrounding Steinbrenner’s pitch for a 1979 pardon. From Sports Illustrated :
Applicant advised that this corporate contribution was made after he received legal advice from corporate counsel, both inside and outside (Steinbrenner’s) American Shipbuilding Company, that this corporate contribution was legal,” stated a 1979 FBI memo. The memo also quotes Steinbrenner as saying he wouldn’t have made the contribution had he known it was illegal, and that his lawyers should have been more thorough in their legal research.
The files also include his application for a pardon in which the Yankees owner says the conviction prevented him from voting, hurt his business interests, and limited his participation in civic, charitable and community affairs. He argued that a pardon “would permit me to contribute more of my services to the community.”
Then-baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn suspended Steinbrenner for two years (later reduced to 15 months) after his 1974 plea, calling him “ineligible and incompetent” to have any connection with a baseball team.