Washington Spirit co-owner Steve Baldwin sent out an email on Tuesday in which he laid out a number of accusations against fellow co-owner Michele Kang, as first reported by Sportico.
The two have been involved in a heated custody battle of the team for months, with Kang most recently turning the tables on Baldwin. The Athletic previously reported that Kang rallied other co-owners to her cause, acquiring the number of votes needed to approve a sale of the club to herself. Last Saturday, the NWSL’s Board of Governors said in a statement that they approved of Kang’s potential ownership of the club.
Baldwin opened his email Tuesday saying that he wanted to provide an update on the sale process. The 1,500-word email then lays out a series of questions to investors and “airs grievances against Kang.”
“I have made every attempt to take the high road throughout this ordeal,” writes Baldwin. “Other than now highlighting a very, very small set of facts of what Bill (Lynch, Spirit co-owner) and I dealt with from our ‘business partner,’ I haven’t pestered you, I haven’t waged a public campaign, I haven’t spoken to the media, and I haven’t leaked any of the interactions of this group (or anything else). The time has come where I can no longer remain silent.”
Some of the email reportedly becomes more personal, with Baldwin citing Kang’s political donations and federal fines levied against her company, Cognosante. He also cites charitable donations and events he set up to help “increase (Kang’s) standing in the community.”
He then asks the investors if any of Kang’s actions are “appropriate” for a board member, expressing particular concern for Kang’s donations to Florida governor Ron DeSantis. According to The Athletic, Kang has also made previous donations to a wide range of Democratic campaigns, including Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016.
“I readily admit that there are elements of this that are personal,” Baldwin writes. “We have hundreds of pages of documents and electronic communications for evidence that I would be happy to share and discuss with you.”
Kang declined to comment personally on the email. Instead her attorney, Beth Wilkinson, released a statement:
“We are disappointed to learn that Mr. Baldwin continues to repeat these false and inappropriate allegations. With the best interests of the team in mind and the vote by the NWSL Board of Governors last weekend, we are ready to move forward and focus on the next, exciting chapter for the Washington Spirit and women’s professional soccer.”
In the email, Baldwin assures investors that a vote will be taken “at the appropriate time.” Previously, Baldwin had said he would sell the club by the end of 2021.
Baldwin had been in serious sales talks with a group led by Todd Boehly and Jennifer Mackesy. Boehly reportedly withdrew his bid, saying his group had “underestimated the complexity of the situation” when it came to the sale.
In his email, Baldwin refutes the claims that Boehly’s group is no longer interested in purchasing the club.
“The decision about the future of the club will involve YOU,” he writes. “If your decision is solely about money, I will completely understand and respect your decision. If you honestly compare Michele with the Purchaser Group that has substantial sports experience and will be led by a remarkable woman (Mackesy) with significant soccer experience and integrity, and feel Michele is a superior owner, I will also completely understand and respect your decision.”