Walmart among companies requesting refund of campaign donations to Hyde-Smith

Walmart among companies requesting refund of campaign donations to Hyde-Smith
Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith talks to supporters in in Jackson, Mississippi, on Nov. 6, 2018.Chris Todd / EPA file

MISSISSIPPI (WDAM) - Some major companies are requesting their campaign donations back from GOP Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith. The senator has received continued backlash following her comments during a Nov. 2 campaign stop in Tupelo where she was standing next to a local rancher and said if he “invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”

In response, Hyde-Smith said her comments were “an exaggerated expression.”

“In a comment on Nov. 2, I referred to accepting an invitation to a speaking engagement. In referencing the one who invited me, I used an exaggerated expression of regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous,” Hyde-Smith said in a statement.

On Nov. 20, retail giant Walmart received backlash for its contributions to her campaign when a finance filing revealed the company gave $2, 000 to her campaign, according to a CNBC report. Actress Debra Messing, most notably known for her role in “Will and Grace”, tweeted, “After lynching comments, Walmart donates to Cindy Hyde-Smith,” causing Walmart to respond in a tweet.

The big box retailer said, “Sen. Hyde-Smith’s recent comments clearly do not reflect the values of our company and associates. As a result, we are withdrawing our support and requesting a refund of all campaign donations.”

Come Nov. 27, Hyde-Smith will face off in a runoff with Democratic candidate Mike Espy, who condemned her comments, for the senate seat previously held by Thad Cochran. Back in April, Gov. Phil Bryant appointed her to the seat after serving as the Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce.

In a statement, Espy said her comments were “reprehensible,” adding that “they have no place in our political discourse, in Mississippi, or our country.” He went on to say that “we need leaders, not dividers, and her words show that she lacks the understanding and judgement to represent the people of our state.”

Union Pacific and Boston Scientific, who also donated to Hyde-Smith’s campaign, also took to Twitter denounce her comments. On Nov. 19, the railroad franchise tweeted that the company “… in no way, shape or form condones or supports divisive or perceived to be divisive statements,” adding that it requested a refund of campaign donations.

Following the same path as Union Pacific, Boston Scientific has requested a refund of its campaign donation. The medical company tweeted on Nov. 19 it was not “aware” of her comments when it donated to her campaign on Nov. 8.

Since Hyde-Smith’s last response, another video has surfaced, which shows her allegedly discussing voter suppression.

“And then they remind me that there’s a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who… maybe we don’t want to vote,” said Hyde-Smith in a video posted by the publisher of the The Bayou Brief. “Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that’s a great idea.”

Her spokeswoman, Melissa Scallan, responded by saying the video was “selectively edited” and that Hyde-Smith was making a “joke.”

Scallan said Hyde-Smith’s camp will not comment on businesses asking for refunds of their campaign contributions.

Espy tweeted a statement from his campaign’s communication director regarding the refund requests Tuesday afternoon.

Hyde-Smith and Espy are set to take center stage in a debate that will be televised across the state on WDAM-ABC, WLBT and WLOX on Nov. 20. The debate begins at 7 p.m.

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