Walmart asked Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi on Tuesday to return its campaign donation after “Will and Grace” actress Debra Messing and others criticized the retail giant for supporting the lawmaker after she made controversial comments about attending a hypothetical “public hanging.”
Walmart, in a tweeted reply to Messing, said it “completely” understood her concern about its donation to Hyde-Smith.
“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 said in the tweet.
Walmart is the third company in the past two days to ask Hyde-Smith for a refund of their campaign contributions. Union Pacific and Boston Scientific had asked her for their money back on Monday.
The retail giant’s move came a day after new election finance filings revealed that Walmart had contributed $2,000 to the campaign of Hyde-Smith, who is headed for a runoff election against Democratic challenger Mike Espy on Nov. 27.
That contribution reportedly was made Nov. 18 — around a week after the first reports that Hyde-Smith had talked about attending a hanging.
On Nov. 2, Hyde-Smith, while attending a campaign stop in Tupelo, referred to a local rancher standing next to her, and said that he if “invited me to a public hanging I’d be on the front row.”
Revelations of that comment sparked a public furor. Mississippi has a history of lynching African-Americans and Hyde-Smith’s opponent, former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Espy, is black.
Before her “hanging” comment, Hyde-Smith had received donation of $1,000 or more from big corporate backers who included Amazon, Amgen, AT&T, Google, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, Nucor and Tyson Foods.
On Monday, Boston Scientific and Union Pacific said on Twitter that they wanted their money back.
Also Monday, Hyde-Smith said that her campaign had returned a $2,700 donation from Peter Zieve, a businessman in Seattle, who was sued by the state of Washington in 2017 for refusing to hire Muslims at his aerospace company Electroimpact, and for expressing “hatred” of Muslims at work.
Zieve had made his donation several days after the video of her hanging comments came to light.
Last week, another video surfaced in which Hyde-Smith was heard saying it might be “a great idea” to make it more difficult for some people to vote.
“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,” Hyde-Smith said on the video, posted by the publisher of The Bayou Brief. “Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that’s a great idea.”
Her campaign said the senator was “obviously” was “making a joke and clearly the video was selectively edited.”