Walmart is asking for a refund from Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith.
The retail megastore chain is asking the Mississippi Republican to return its campaign donation in the wake of a controversial comment Hyde-Smith made during a campaign trail stop about a “public hanging.” Walmart’s donation recall comes after the company was called out on social media by actress Debra Messing for contributing $2000 to Hyde-Smith’s campaign.
"Completely understand your concern," Walmart tweeted from its official company account. "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."
Walmart is the latest of several major businesses who have donated to Hyde-Smith’s campaign to ask for their money back after taking heat on social media. Both railroad owner Union Pacific and medical device manufacturer Boston Scientific have asked for the contributions to be returned.
"Union Pacific in no way, shape or form condones or supports divisive or perceived to be divisive statements," the company tweeted. "Our contribution was mailed prior to Hyde-Smith's statement being made public. Union Pacific has requested a refund of our contribution."
Boston Scientific asked for their return following a tweet from Judd Legum, the founder of the liberal news site ThinkProgess.
“We were not aware of Senator Hyde-Smith’s remarks when this contribution was made on November 8, and we have requested a refund,” Boston Scientific tweeted. “We reject the Senator’s statements, which are not aligned with our company’s core values.”
Hyde-Smith, who was appointed in April to fill retired Republican Sen. Thad Cochran's seat, was caught on camera during a campaign stop that if she were invited by one of her supporters to a "public hanging," she would be in "the front row.” The Mississippi lawmaker has since said that the comment was made in jest and denied any racial connotation.
Her denial, however, has done little to quiet the outrage in a state known for its history of lynchings and other racially-motivated attacks on African-Americans. The comment has become a major talking point in the lead-up to the state’s special election on Nov. 27, where Hyde-Smith faces Democrat Mike Espy – a former Secretary of Agriculture who in 1986 became the first African-American to represent Mississippi at the federal level since Reconstruction - in one of the closest senatorial races in the state in recent memory.
“Hyde-Smith’s decision to joke about ‘hanging,’ in a state known for its violent and terroristic history toward African Americans is sick," NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a statement.