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Some companies are still waiting for Cindy Hyde-Smith to refund donations

Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and her Democratic rival Mike Espy spent a whopping $6.6 million in the fi...

Posted: Dec 29, 2018 4:14 PM
Updated: Dec 29, 2018 4:14 PM

Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and her Democratic rival Mike Espy spent a whopping $6.6 million in the final weeks of a hard-fought Senate campaign marked by a controversy over her comments that evoked a painful chapter in state history.

Hyde-Smith spent more than $1.7 million on the way to beating Espy in last month's runoff and saving her seat -- more than she had spent during any other period in the campaign, a new filing with federal election regulators shows. Espy's expenditures topped $4.8 million, as the former Agriculture secretary drew national attention and donations in his attempt to become the state's first black senator since Reconstruction.

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Hyde-Smith's comments about attending a "public hanging" sparked weeks of controversy, given the state's history of racially charged lynchings. And it prompted major corporate interests, ranging from health insurance giant Aetna to Facebook to Major League Baseball, to demand refunds of their political donations.

Her campaign's filing Thursday with the Federal Election Commission shows she returned contributions to three individuals -- including San Francisco Giants' principal owner Charles Johnson and his wife, Ann, who each donated the $2,700 maximum.

In addition, three political action committees also saw their money returned -- MLB, Amgen and the National Cattlemen's Association, although the filings indicate that MLB and Amgen received refunds by stopping payments on their checks. The three PACS had contributed $5,000 each.

In all, the campaign lost a little more $23,000 through refunds and stopped payments in November and December.

Smith's campaign did not immediately respond to requests for more information Thursday.

Other companies say they still are waiting for refunds.

On Thursday, T.J. Crawford, a spokesman for Aetna, told CNN via email that company officials have "made the request, but the funds have yet to be returned."

Aetna's political action committee had donated $2,500 and pledged on Twitter last month to donate the money to anti-racism efforts.

Medical device maker Boston Scientific, which also has sought a refund of its $2,500 PAC contribution, still hasn't received one, spokesman Kate Haranis said Thursday.

"But we've followed up several times with the Senator's fundraising team and they have confirmed receipt of our request," she said in an email to CNN.

Earlier this month, a slew of other companies told the New York Times they were still seeking refunds.

Thursday's filing by Hyde-Smith's campaign covered activity between Nov. 8 and Dec. 17.

And the post-election accounting indicates that handing over all the refunds that have been requested might drain Hyde-Smith's resources: The campaign had just $63,744 remaining in its bank account as the filing period ended, and she's up for re-election in less than two years.

Federal campaign-finance rules require candidates to return illegal or excess contributions, but they do not do not mandate that candidates refund money on demand from disenchanted contributors.

Hyde-Smith beat Espy in the November 27 runoff. She had been appointed in April to fill the seat of Thad Cochran, who retired for health reasons. She is expected to be on the ballot again in 2020 to seek a full, six-year term.

Hyde-Smith's joke about attending a public hanging if invited by a supporter became public November 11 and quickly went viral. She later apologized during a debate with Espy, but said her words had been twisted for political gain.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 293542

Reported Deaths: 6638
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19560229
Hinds18674385
Harrison16512276
Rankin12595262
Jackson12451217
Lee9663160
Madison9400195
Jones7891145
Forrest7140136
Lauderdale6784225
Lowndes6008137
Lamar584480
Lafayette5707113
Washington5159128
Bolivar4594120
Oktibbeha439991
Panola426892
Pearl River4116128
Warren4114113
Pontotoc407368
Marshall399492
Monroe3980126
Union392873
Neshoba3767166
Lincoln3464100
Hancock339973
Leflore3358118
Sunflower317185
Tate300874
Pike298393
Scott292567
Alcorn290360
Itawamba288871
Yazoo283862
Tippah275665
Copiah274557
Coahoma272766
Simpson271778
Prentiss268658
Leake251770
Wayne251340
Marion250778
Covington247878
Grenada245876
Adams233277
George230645
Newton224751
Winston220275
Jasper211844
Tishomingo211765
Attala206269
Chickasaw200650
Holmes181670
Clay178149
Stone171429
Tallahatchie169839
Clarke168671
Calhoun156428
Smith151831
Yalobusha142936
Greene126833
Walthall123540
Noxubee122729
Perry121434
Montgomery121237
Lawrence119321
Carroll117623
Amite110832
Webster109929
Jefferson Davis100531
Tunica98623
Claiborne97729
Benton93124
Humphreys91626
Kemper89522
Quitman77014
Franklin75519
Choctaw69516
Wilkinson62226
Jefferson61427
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 491110

Reported Deaths: 9831
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson706291356
Mobile35894721
Madison32255442
Tuscaloosa23996409
Montgomery22462494
Shelby21820215
Baldwin19670274
Lee14900150
Morgan13599249
Calhoun13175285
Etowah13143319
Marshall11226206
Houston10048259
Elmore9337183
Limestone9335134
Cullman8869179
St. Clair8783220
Lauderdale8581210
DeKalb8429174
Talladega7481163
Walker6504251
Jackson6477102
Autauga620389
Blount6086125
Colbert5978118
Coffee5230102
Dale4621106
Russell401831
Franklin397876
Covington3956106
Chilton384298
Escambia377172
Tallapoosa3572141
Clarke342949
Dallas3397141
Chambers3392108
Pike293071
Lawrence281384
Marion280894
Winston246166
Bibb244260
Geneva238670
Marengo233354
Pickens223954
Barbour209951
Hale208868
Fayette199756
Butler195165
Henry182041
Cherokee176438
Monroe165938
Randolph163140
Washington156634
Crenshaw143554
Clay143354
Macon140943
Cleburne136839
Lamar131732
Lowndes130648
Wilcox120825
Bullock116336
Conecuh106523
Perry105327
Sumter98431
Coosa87823
Greene87032
Choctaw54823
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