By Laura Stampler
November 20, 2018

Walmart tweeted Tuesday that it is withdrawing its support and “requesting a refund of all campaign donations” from Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith after the Republican lawmaker “joked” about public lynchings, restricting voter’s rights for liberal college students—and then defended the comments. And other corporate donors are joining the retail giant’s request for a refund.

Hyde-Smith, who was appointed to her position by Gov. Phil Bryant last March, faces public scrutiny after a campaign stop last month in which she stated in front of rolling cameras that if a local rancher she’d met “invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”

Her comment was particularly jarring given the fact that Hyde-Smith, who is Caucasian, is currently campaigning for a Nov. 27 run-off against former Democratic Congressman and U.S. agriculture secretary Mike Espy, who is black.

Mississippi has a pronounced history of racism and violence. According to the NAACP, Mississippi had the highest number of recorded lynchings between 1882–1968, hanging 581 black people.

Progressive newsletter Popular Information reported that on Nov. 18, a week after Hyde-Smith’s lynching comment went public, Walmart donated $2,000 to her campaign. When actress and activist Debra Messing took to Twitter Monday, calling the retailer out to her 531,000 followers, Walmart responded that it planned on taking back its contribution as “Sen. Hyde-Smith’s recent comments clearly do not reflect the values of our company and associates.”

Other companies have asked for their donations to be returned as well. Union Pacific tweeted that its $5,000 donation was mailed before Hyde-Smith made her lynching remarks, and Boston Scientific claims it wasn’t aware of her comment before sending its $2,500 donation.

Although Google, which donated $5,000 to Hyde-Smith’s campaign, hasn’t made a statement about asking for a refund, a spokesperson told Vox, “While we support candidates who promote pro-growth policies for business and technology, we do not condone these remarks and would not have made such a contribution had we known about them.”

Continuing his support is President Donald Trump, who wrote that Hyde-Camp “loves Mississippi and our Great U.S.A.” in a tweet promoting a Mississippi rally he will be attending on Nov. 26, the day before the election.

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