The Donald Sterling drama reached the Capitol on Wednesday when a Senate committee approved legislation that would prohibit the Los Angeles Clippers owner from claiming a state tax deduction for a $2.5 million fine by the National Basketball Association for making racist remarks.
Members of the Senate Governance and Finance Committee didnt defend Sterling, but several worried whether the legislation, which would apply to any professional sports team owners who are fined by their leagues for any reason, would violate freedom of speech.
The measure, Assembly Bill 877, was drafted by Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, D-Los Angeles, as Sterling was engulfed in controversy over remarks about African Americans that a woman friend had revealed. The NBA fined Sterling and has been pressuring him to sell the basketball franchise.
Bocanegra and other supporters said that allowing Sterling to deduct the fine as a business expense would reward bad conduct, but Sen. Mimi Walters, R-Irvine, said it would impinge on First Amendment free speech rights.