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NBA players' union says Orlando Magic donation to a DeSantis super PAC is 'alarming'

Dick DeVos (left) and former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos watch from courtside seats during a game between the Orlando Magic and the Brooklyn Nets on March 26 in Orlando, Fla. The Magic is owned by the DeVos family.
Phelan M. Ebenhack
/
AP
Dick DeVos (left) and former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos watch from courtside seats during a game between the Orlando Magic and the Brooklyn Nets on March 26 in Orlando, Fla. The Magic is owned by the DeVos family.

Updated August 4, 2023 at 4:23 PM ET

The NBA players' union has taken issue with a $50,000 donation the Orlando Magic made to a super PAC supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' 2024 presidential campaign.

"A political contribution from the Orlando Magic is alarming given recent comments and policies of its beneficiary," the National Basketball Players Association said Thursday.

The team's donation went to the Never Back Down super PAC, according to datafrom the Federal Election Commission. A super PAC, or political action committee, can receive and spend an unlimited amount of money from donors to get a candidate elected, but cannot directly donate to a candidate.

A Magic spokesman said the donation was made on May 19, which was days before DeSantis announced his intent to seek the GOP presidential nomination.

"To clarify, this gift was given before Governor DeSantis entered the presidential race," Orlando Magic Chief Communication Officer Joel Glass said in a statement. "It was given as a Florida business in support of a Florida governor for the continued prosperity of Central Florida."

DeSantis has enacted controversial laws in the state in recent months, including banning diversity and inclusion programs at public colleges and banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.

Ironically the Magic has a sponsorship agreement with Walt Disney World Resort (the Disney logo appears on players' jerseys), which has been in a political and legal battle with DeSantis. The feud started when Disney's former CEO said he'd work to overturn a law banning discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools.

"NBA governors, players and personnel have the right to express their personal political views, including through donations and statements," the NBPA said. "However, if contributions are made on behalf of an entire team, using money earned through the labor of its employees, it is incumbent upon the team governors to consider the diverse values and perspectives of staff and players."

The Orlando Magic is owned by the family of former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who served in the Trump administration.

"The Magic's donation does not represent player support for the recipient," the union said.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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