April 26, 2011 1:23 PM
Akin Gump Attorney to Oversee Dodgers
Posted by Brian Baxter
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld senior counsel J. Thomas Schieffer has been appointed by Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig to oversee the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The decision comes less than a week after Selig invoked his powers under the "best interests of baseball" to take control of the team away from owner Frank McCourt, who has been struggling with mounting financial difficulties stemming from an ongoing divorce battle.
A message left for Schieffer at his office in Washington, D.C., wasn't returned by the time of this post. In a statement issued by Akin Gump, Schieffer, the younger brother of longtime CBS journalist Bob Schieffer, said that he was eager to serve a game he's always loved. I look forward to helping [MLB] and the Los Angeles Dodgers through this difficult period," Schieffer said.
The Dodgers won't be Schieffer's first go-around with a professional baseball team. The native Texan served as president of the Texas Rangers from 1991 to 1999 and was a general partner of the team from 1994 to 1998. Schieffer joined the team in 1989 as an investor in an ownership group that included former President George W. Bush, who had not yet entered politics.
Schieffer, 63, is a Democrat who served three terms in Texas's House of Representatives. After moving from the governor's mansion in Texas to the White House, President Bush named Schieffer as one of his key ambassadors during his eight-year term. Schieffer served as ambassador to Australia from 2001 to 2005 and ambassador to Japan until the conclusion of the second Bush administration in 2009.
As the new monitor for the Dodgers, Schieffer will oversee the team's finances and has the authority to approve any expenditure of $5,000 or more. Schieffer told Yahoo! Sports's Tim Brown that Selig contacted him last week about taking control of one of MLB's most venerable franchises, and that he was formally offered the position on Monday. Schieffer also told Brown that he has never met McCourt, but he declined to comment when asked whether he could see a future where McCourt might be restored as owner.
Last week reports surfaced that McCourt had retained Sullivan & Cromwell for a potential suit against MLB over the league's decision to strip him of control of the Dodgers. Such an action would be a tall order, according to the New York Daily News and SI.com. Both cite Selig's broad powers as commissioner, along with documents signed by McCourt in which he promised not to sue the league after purchasing the team in 2004.
Schieffer isn't the only lawyer from Akin Gump with ties to baseball. Fellow senior counsel Randy Levine once served as chief labor negotiator for MLB and is currently president of the New York Yankees.
Akin Gump litigation partner John Dowd, currently busy representing hedge fund titan Raj Rajaratnam in an insider trading case, served as special counsel to three MLB commissioners in investigating former Cincinnati Reds star Pete Rose for betting on baseball. Dowd's findings can be found in the 225-page Dowd Report.Make a comment