Walmart on Tuesday said it would seek a refund for its campaign donation to Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), who has sparked outcry for joking about public hangings.
“Sen. Hyde-Smith’s recent comments clearly do not reflect the values of our company and associates,” Walmart said on Twitter. “As a result, we are withdrawing our support and requesting a refund of all campaign donations.”
Hyde-Smith, a freshman senator who faces Democratic challenger Mike Espy in a Nov. 27 runoff election, has drawn increased public scrutiny after offensive comments she has dismissed as jokes.
At a campaign stop earlier this month, she said of a local rancher: “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.” The remark harkened back to the South’s racist history of lynchings of African-Americans.
Espy, who would become the first black senator to represent Mississippi since the years after the Civil War, called his opponent’s remarks “reprehensible.”
Hyde-Smith later claimed her comment was an “exaggerated expression of regard.”
Walmart’s $2,000 donation to Hyde-Smith was listed in her campaign’s most recent Federal Election Commission filing on Monday, and first reported by Popular Information, a progressive newsletter.
A spokeswoman for Walmart told HuffPost the company made the donation on Nov. 8, two days after the general election and before Hyde-Smith’s comments became public.
Walmart joins at least two other corporate donors ― Boston Scientific and Union Pacific ― saying they are seeking refunds of donations to Hyde-Smith.
Hyde-Smith’s campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.
The senator created further controversy when she told a group of young people that voter suppression would be a “great idea,” according to video from a Nov. 3 campaign stop released last week. Mississippi, like many states in the Deep South, has a long history of suppressing black voters.
Her campaign claimed Hyde-Smith was joking.
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