Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., seems to have struck out again when it comes to campaign donations.
The Mississippi lawmaker, who faces a run-off election on Tuesday against Democrat Mike Espy, just had another big-dollar donor ask for a refund as she deals with fallout from her controversial “public hanging” comments.
This time, Major League Baseball is asking that Hyde-Smith return the organization’s $5,000 donation.
“The contribution was made in connection with an event that MLB lobbyists were asked to attend,” an MLB spokesperson said in a statement given to USA TODAY Sports. “MLB has requested that the contribution be returned.”
The senator’s campaign did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Hyde-Smith, who was appointed in April to fill retired Republican Sen. Thad Cochran’s seat, was recorded during a campaign stop saying that if a supporter invited her to a “public hanging,” she would be in “the front row.” The Mississippi lawmaker has since said her comment was made in jest and denied any racial connotation.
Her denial, however, has done little to quiet the outrage. The comment has become a major talking point in the lead-up to the state’s special election on Nov. 27, where Hyde-Smith faces Espy – a former secretary of agriculture and congressman who in 1986 became the first African-American to represent Mississippi at the federal level since Reconstruction – in one of the closest senatorial races in the state in recent memory.
“Hyde-Smith’s decision to joke about ‘hanging,’ in a state known for its violent and terroristic history toward African Americans is sick,” NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a statement.
Civil rights groups are not the only ones outraged by the comments.
Last week, retail megastore chain Walmart asked for its $2,000 donation back from Hyde-Smith and tweeted out a statement that her “comments clearly do not reflect the values of our company and associates.” The refund was prompted by a previous tweet by actress Debra Messing.
Along with Walmart, railroad owner Union Pacific and medical device manufacturer Boston Scientific have asked for their contributions to be returned.
“Union Pacific in no way, shape or form condones or supports divisive or perceived to be divisive statements,” the company tweeted. “Our contribution was mailed prior to Hyde-Smith’s statement being made public. Union Pacific has requested a refund of our contribution.”
In an effort to help Hyde-Smith’s ailing campaign, and to help Republicans hold a Senate seat that they have held for decades, President Trump is making two stops in Mississippi the day before the special election to rally voter support for Hyde-Smith as he did for a number of other candidates across the country in a mad dash of appearances before Nov. 6. In the 2016 presidential election, Trump won Mississippi by roughly 18 points.
“President Trump is so committed to getting out the vote for Cindy Hyde-Smith that he scheduled two rallies in the great State of Mississippi on the day before the run-off election,” Trump campaign chief operating officer Michael Glassner said in a news release. “The President needs all hands on deck on Election Day on November 27 so he can continue to count on Senator Hyde-Smith’s outstanding support for his America First agenda.”