Though Mississippi Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith won her special election runoff in late November to fill the remainder of former Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R) term, her nearly-8-point victory was hardly a resounding win. Along the way, she embraced public lynchings, was exposed for her longstanding support for the Confederacy and her taste for private schools that subverted integration, touted her work with a fictitious colleague, and lost the public support of numerous corporate backers.
But it does not appear that the high-profile departures of Hyde-Smith’s friends in the business community actually cost her much real campaign money, according to her latest Federal Election Commission disclosures.
As with most gifts, once given it is hard to get them back. As ABC News reported on Monday, Hyde-Smith has apparently not returned over $50,000 in political action committee donations, despite refund requests from the companies that made them. These included four-figure donations from Aetna, AT&T, Boston Scientific, Facebook, Google, Leidos, Pfizer, Union Pacific, and Walmart. Though they and others asked for the money to be returned in light of the Senator’s racism (and some were explicit in what they would like to do with the returned money), Hyde-Smith is not legally required to refund the cash and has not said she will do so.
Only one PAC contribution was apparently refunded — a late donation of $5,000 by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association made after her racist remarks came to light. Two more $5,000 donations — from Major League Baseball and Amgen’s company PACs, were listed as “refund – stop payment of receipt,” indicating that the donors cancelled the checks before Team Hyde-Smith could squirrel them away.
Hyde-Smith was not the only 2018 candidate whose racist rhetoric became a headache for corporate backers who had not thoroughly vetted her before sending their checks. Steve King (R), an openly racist congressman from Iowa, received more than $100,000 in corporate PAC contributions over his 16 years in Congress before some companies were finally forced to publicly reckon with his racist record in 2018. Many of the same companies have showered other bigoted politicians with corporate contributions for decades, but have not faced the same public backlash.
Ironically, the filings also show that weeks after Hyde-Smith said she’d be “on the front row” if a supporter invited her “to a public hanging,” her campaign made more than $3,400 in “in-kind” contributions to the National Right to Life political action committee.