The midterm elections earlier this month have brought with them plenty of controversies. From numerous recounts in key states to scandals about voter rolls being purged, to some of the unsavory things politicians have had to say during their campaigns before election day.
One such politician who caused a stir was Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi when she stated just four days before the midterms that she would happily attend a public hanging if one of her colleagues invited her to it.
Her racially insensitive remarks have angered many who previously supported her, with major companies who donated to her campaign, including Google, putting in a formal request to retrieve their donations, according to TIME. Google confirmed to the publication that they had made the request.
Hyde-Smith is not exactly out of the woods yet with regards to the elections either. She faces a run-off against Mike Espy, a black Democrat, on Tuesday after failing to secure a majority vote.
Her remarks regarding a public hanging weren’t even the only racially charged comments Hyde-Smith made in the run up to the midterms. While whispers of voter suppression in a number of states were running rampant before the November 6 election date, it was something Hyde-Smith saw as a joke.
Although many were concerned that minority groups had been particularly targeted in voter suppression by the introduction of identification laws, voter purges, pending registrations, and lack of polling stations, Hyde-Smith instead commented that “maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult for liberal folks to vote.”
With Mississippi’s long history of racism, public persecutions and lynchings of African Americans, and voter suppression of black people, neither remark has been received well. On November 11, Hyde-Smith tried to pass them off as “exaggerated expression of regard,” and called “any attempt to turn them into negative connotation” “ridiculous.”
Some of the other companies that have requested their campaign donations to be returned include the likes of Walmart and Major League Baseball. Google did not confirm when the donation was originally made, nor did they state when exactly they had put in the request for the money, an amount of $5,000, to be returned after her comments.
Major League Baseball has also offered up $5,000 for Hyde-Smith’s campaign, around the same time of her comments. According to the New York Times, but they have claimed they were unaware of her opinion on public hangings before making the donation. When it was discovered that they had donated to her campaign, Major League Baseball was quick to ask for the money back.