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• Both before and after the league decided to move the All-Star Game away from Atlanta, Abrams threw cold water on the notion of a boycott — in a Twitter video, in comments to the leading newspaper in Atlanta, and in an op-ed in USA Today.
• Abrams even personally lobbied Major League Baseball not to take that step before the league announced its boycott.
Even before Georgia’s primary elections were decided, a leading Republican in the state was looking ahead to the general election, in which Stacey Abrams is widely expected to secure the Democratic nomination in the state’s hotly contested gubernatorial race.
On May 22, two days before the primary, Chris Carr, a Republican who is running for a new term as Georgia’s attorney general, criticized Abrams for a comment she made at a local Democratic dinner the previous night. Abrams told the audience that she is "tired of hearing about being the best state in the country to do business when we are the worst state in the country to live."
Abrams expanded on this characterization during the speech, blasting Georgia for its relatively low rankings for such quality-of-life issues as mental health access and maternal mortality. But critics like Carr wasted no time in painting the remark as just the latest example of Abrams trash-talking the state she’s running to lead.
"Our state’s No.1 ranking for business has transformed hundreds of thousands of Georgians’ lives," Carr tweeted. "Just like when she supported the #MLB boycott, Stacey Abrams’ reckless & condescending comments continue to harm the state she claims to want to govern."
But there’s a problem with what Carr said in his tweet: Abrams did not support Major League Baseball’s boycott of Atlanta for its annual All-Star Game in 2021. Carr’s campaign did not respond to an inquiry for this article.
The All-Star Game controversy, which resulted in the late relocation of the game to Denver, was driven by the league’s concerns about a Republican-backed law that had been criticized by voting advocates. They said the law made it harder to cast an absentee ballot by limiting the number of ballot boxes and how long voters could use them, and it generally banned handing out food or water to voters in line. Supporters of the law disagreed that it would make voting harder, noting that the law also expanded early voting options and allowed Sunday voting in counties that wanted to permit it.
Before the boycott, which was announced on April 2, 2021, Abrams urged Major League Baseball not to move the game away from Atlanta, citing the economic harm to the metro Atlanta region. She repeated that concern after the game was moved away.
• In a Twitter video released March 31, Abrams said: "I understand the passion of those calling for boycotts of Georgia following the passage of SB 202. Boycotts have been an important tool throughout our history to achieve social change. But here’s the thing: Black, Latino, AAPI (Asian American-Pacific Islander) and Native American voters whose votes are the most suppressed under SB 202 are also the most likely to be hurt by potential boycotts of Georgia. To our friends across the country please do not boycott us. To my fellow Georgians, stay and fight, stay and vote."
• Abrams told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an article published April 1 that critics of Georgia’s new law shouldn’t rush to boycott "yet." Instead, she said corporations should publicly condemn the law, invest in voting rights expansion and support federal legislation.
The Journal-Constitution reporter, Greg Bluestein, later tweeted that Abrams spoke to a Major League Baseball senior adviser "and ‘strongly’ urged the league to keep the All-Star game in Atlanta before the decision to yank the event." A Major League Baseball spokesperson offered a similar characterization of the call to PolitiFact at the time.
• After the announcement that the game was being moved, Abrams said, "As I have stated, I respect boycotts, although I don’t want to see Georgia families hurt by lost events and jobs." She also said that "as other events, productions and businesses weigh whether to patronize Georgia, I urge those who can to come and speak out, and I urge those who are here to stay and fight, and to stay and vote."
"One lesson of boycotts is that the pain of deprivation must be shared to be sustainable," Abrams wrote in the original version of the op-ed posted online. "Otherwise, those least resilient bear the brunt of these actions; and in the aftermath, they struggle to access the victory. And boycotts are complicated affairs that require a long-term commitment to action. I have no doubt that voters of color, particularly Black voters, are willing to endure the hardships of boycotts. But I don’t think that’s necessary — yet. ... I ask you to bring your business to Georgia and, if you’re already here, stay and fight. Stay and vote."
Critics point out that USA Today quietly updated the op-ed a few days later, after Major League Baseball announced its boycott. However, the updated version makes essentially the same arguments against a boycott as the initial version did.
USA Today, in an editor’s note added to the op-ed after it was updated, said it asked Abrams to modify the op-ed before it ran in print to reflect the news that Major League Baseball had officially decided to move the game.
In the revised op-ed, Abrams added language about Republicans being "craven" and President Donald Trump "calling for cancellation of baseball as the national pastime," but her stance on a boycott was not notably different.
She wrote, "Instead of a boycott, I strongly urge other events and productions to do business in Georgia and speak out against our law and similar proposals in other states."
In response to written questions from members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Abrams testified that, "I did not suggest or request that USA Today make this or any other changes to the op-ed; rather, I agreed to a request from USA Today to update my op-ed for print purposes." (The committee hearing was about voting rights.)
Carr said that Abrams "supported the MLB boycott."
Both before and after the league’s boycott, Abrams threw cold water on the idea, saying in a Twitter video, "To our friends across the country please do not boycott us." She echoed those comments to the leading newspaper in Atlanta and in an op-ed in USA Today. She also personally lobbied Major League Baseball not to take that step before the boycott was announced.
We rate the statement False.
Chris Carr, tweet, May 22, 2022
Major League Baseball, "MLB statement regarding 2021 All-Star Game," April 2, 2021
Stacey Abrams, Twitter video, March 31, 2021
USA Today op-ed by Stacey Abrams, Corporate America must pick a side on voting rights, prevent a Georgia repeat (updated version), April 28, 2021
USA Today op-ed by Stacey Abrams, original archived version, March 31, 2021
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Stacey Abrams: Georgia companies shouldn’t face boycott ‘yet’ over election law, April 1, 2021
Fox News, "USA Today edits Stacey Abrams op-ed published before MLB pulled game in Atlanta, waters down boycott support," April 26, 2022
Associated Press, "Stacey Abrams says Georgia is 'worst state in the country to live,' but then explained," May 23, 2022
Stacey Abrams, testimony to Congress, accessed May 24, 2022
PolitiFact, "What Joe Biden, Stacey Abrams and Georgia senators said about a MLB boycott," April 21, 2021
PolitiFact, "What’s in Georgia’s new voting law that lost it the All-Star Game," April 7, 2021
Email interview with Seth Bringman, spokesman for Stacey Abrams, May 23, 2022
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