Pfizer, Walmart, AT&T among companies withdrawing support for Mississippi GOP Sen. Hyde-Smith

The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is one of several big-name companies calling on Mississippi Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith to return their campaign donations after a video surfaced on social media in which she talks about attending a “public hanging.”

Interested in Midterm Elections?

Add Midterm Elections as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Midterm Elections news, video, and analysis from ABC News.

Hyde-Smith is in a tight runoff election race with Democrat Mike Espy, a former congressman who would be the state’s first African-American senator since the 1800s.

“We condemn racism and bigotry in all its forms,” Pfizer spokesperson Sharon Castillo told ABC News Tuesday. “We are withdrawing our support and have requested a full refund of our contributions, which were made months in advance of the senator’s comments.”

Andrew Kelly/Reuters, FILE
A man walks past Pfizer’s world headquarters in New York, April 28, 2014.

Pfizer has made two contributions totaling $5,000.

The video in question shows Hyde-Smith in Tupelo, Mississippi, embracing a supporter and saying, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”

After the video was posted on Twitter, Hyde-Smith did not apologize but defended herself.

“In a comment on Nov. 2, I referred to accepting an invitation to a speaking engagement,” she said in a statement. “In referencing the one who invited me, I used an exaggerated expression of regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous.”

When actress Debra Messing criticized Walmart for its donation to Hyde-Smith, the company responded that the senator’s comments “clearly do not reflect the values of our company and associates.”

Walmart requested a full refund of $4,000 Tuesday, according to a company spokesperson.

Other companies, including AT&T, Leidos and Boston Scientific, have requested refunds of $2,000, $5,000 and $2,500, respectively.

Sen. Hyde-Smith’s campaign did not immediately comment.

Four days after the first video surfaced, another video from Nov. 3 was tweeted in which Hyde-Smith tells a group of supporters in Starkville, Mississippi, that it would be a “great idea” to make voting “just a little more difficult” for “liberal folks.”

Hyde-Smith’s campaign once again refused to apologize and released a statement saying, “Obviously Sen. Hyde-Smith was making a joke and clearly the video was selectively edited.”

Hyde-Smith, appointed by Gov. Phil Bryant, is facing the runoff with Espy after she netted 41.4 percent of the vote on Election Day while Espy had 40.6 percent.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.