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Rival Super Bowl team owners allies on political field

Ravens, 49ers honchos both support NFL's Gridiron-PAC

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On Sunday, Stephen Bisciotti, John York and Denise DeBartolo York will be cheering for different teams to win Super Bowl XLVII. But they have a common interest in the world of money in politics.

Since 2008, Bisciotti, the owner of the Baltimore Ravens, has donated $20,000 to Gridiron-PAC, the official political action committee of the National Football League, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of Federal Election Commission records.

Meanwhile, the Yorks, the main co-owners of the San Francisco 49ers, have contributed a combined $50,000 to Gridiron-PAC since 2008, records indicate.

During the 2012 election cycle alone, Gridiron-PAC raised more than $900,000 — it's most prolific cycle on record, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. It's also part of an overall escalation in the NFL's political involvement, which now includes a powerful lobbying team.

In the two-year period, Gridiron-PAC doled out $804,000 to a variety of Republican and Democratic candidates, party groups and other political committees, federal records show.

The largest beneficiaries — at $30,000 a piece — were the four major party committees: the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The PAC also reported making a $10,000 donation to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and a $2,500 charitable contribtion to the Brain Injury Association of Vermont.

Neither Super Bowl team owner has (yet?) ponied up for any super PACs — although last year, the Arizona Cardinals became the first NFL team to directly donate to this kind of political group, when it gave $5,000 to the super PAC of Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican. Unlike traditional PACs, like Gridiron-PAC, which may only accept contributions up to $5,000 per year from individuals, super PACs may accept contributions without limit from individuals, corporations and unions.

Why is 2013 an important year for campaign finance? Dave Levinthal and Michael Beckel will answer that, and many other questions about the money-in-politics world in a live chat on Monday, Feb. 4, at 1 p.m. ET.