Lisa Ellman, who leads the firm’s unmanned aircraft systems team, will lobby for the league on “issues related to unmanned aircraft systems,” according to the new registration. Ellman serves as one of the executive directors for the nonprofit Commercial Drone Alliance, a group that has pushed the federal government to foster the development and wider deployment of drones in the United States.
Early in the Trump administration, the group expressed misgivings with the executive order calling for two regulations to be repealed with every new rule enacted, saying the two-for-one directive could have “unintended consequences” and “damage the commercial drone industry’s ability to take off in the United States.”
MLB reportedly does not allow drones above stadiums without approval. Last year, a fan at a San Diego Padres game was nearly struck by a drone after it crisscrossed the field and crashed into the upper deck of Petco Park. In response to the incident, an MLB spokesman said: “Our Security Department became aware of yesterday’s incident and we have been in touch with the local authorities. We are continuing to monitor the situation. Drones are prohibited items at all of our ballparks.”
Ellman was not reached for comment, and a spokesperson for MLB did not return a message seeking comment. Ellman told Politico in a statement that the league “is working with lawmakers and policymakers to develop new policies, procedures and approaches that continue to ensure fan safety.”
The drone registration appears to be the first for MLB. The league has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent years lobbying on issues including Cuba policy, tax reform, ticket sales and sports gambling. MLB’s second-quarter report, filed in July, showed $330,000 in expenditures.
Major League Baseball in 2016 opened an office in Washington led by Josh Alkin, serving as vice president for government relations and reporting to Dan Halem, MLB’s chief legal officer.
“MLB is working with lawmakers and policymakers to develop new policies, procedures and approaches that continue to ensure fan safety,” Alkin said in an email.
Outside lobbying firms have included primarily Arnold & Porter and Baker & Hostetler. Alkin formerly was on Baker & Hostetler’s legislative team and served as an adviser to the office of the commissioner of Major League Baseball.