This week, a report found that Major League Baseball had made a $5,000 donation to controversial Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith through its political action committee.
Now, just a day after the report, MLB wants its money back.
Popular Information‘s Judd Legum first noticed the donation when looking through FEC filings, noting that the Major League Baseball PAC gave $5,000 to Hyde-Smith, who is in a run-off race against Democrat Mike Espy on Tuesday. Hyde-Smith has generated considerable controversy for joking about lynching at a campaign event and statements supporting the Confederacy, and the donation was met with criticism.
After Legum’s report, an MLB spokesperson said the contribution was made by an MLB lobbyist and that the organization did not support Hyde-Smith. It asked that she return the donation.
A number of other organization have asked Cindy Hyde-Smith to return donations amid her controversial statements. As CBS News noted, AT&T, Walmart, and Pfizer all asked for the Republican to return their campaign donations after she joked about attending a public lynching. Hyde-Smith’s opponent in the Senate runoff is a black man, and the state of Mississippi has a history of lynchings against innocent black people.
After the report that MLB donated to Hyde-Smith, the sports league faced considerable pushback. The league had already been criticized for its dwindling African-American player base, despite a historic reputation as a league the embraced diversity before other major American sports leagues did.
Though the race once seemed to be in the bag for Republicans, Democrats now have a glimmer of hope that they can replicate the upset from earlier this year in Alabama, where Democrat Doug Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore after a series of women came forward to say that he made advances and dated them when he was an adult and they were in their early teens. The scandal was enough to sink Republican enthusiasm in the race, and a strong turnout among Democratic voters gave Jones the victory.
It is not clear if the same circumstances can be replicated in Mississippi, but Hyde-Smith’s series of racially charged scandals have given them hope. As the USA Today noted, Democrats have released a series of ads seizing on her racial controversies.
“We can’t afford a senator who embarrasses us and reinforces the stereotypes we’ve worked so hard to overcome,” one spot says.
Voters will get a chance to have their say very soon. The runoff election between Cindy Hyde-Smith and Mike Espy will take place on Tuesday.