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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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Cindy Hyde-Smith

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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: 156868

Reported Deaths: 3851
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10409104
Hinds10279202
Harrison7313112
Jackson6566128
Rankin5887106
Lee529496
Madison5014107
Forrest389786
Jones369088
Lauderdale3594147
Lafayette338253
Washington3246108
Lamar297850
Oktibbeha252362
Lowndes247064
Bolivar244384
Panola232653
Neshoba2249121
Marshall222851
Leflore208591
Monroe206778
Pontotoc204231
Lincoln197366
Sunflower192655
Warren180258
Tate177751
Union171926
Copiah167940
Pike165359
Yazoo160140
Scott159430
Itawamba157635
Alcorn155628
Pearl River155368
Coahoma152743
Simpson152653
Prentiss151331
Adams144752
Grenada143345
Leake139744
Holmes133461
Covington128639
Tippah128430
George128325
Winston125526
Hancock124341
Wayne121323
Marion119446
Attala119334
Tishomingo112443
Chickasaw109432
Newton108229
Tallahatchie98127
Clay94727
Clarke93653
Jasper85223
Stone80615
Calhoun78713
Walthall77629
Montgomery76926
Carroll74115
Lawrence73814
Smith73216
Yalobusha73128
Noxubee72717
Perry68326
Tunica62619
Greene61522
Jefferson Davis59017
Claiborne58916
Amite56615
Humphreys54719
Benton50018
Quitman5007
Webster46714
Kemper45018
Wilkinson40522
Jefferson37112
Choctaw3617
Franklin3555
Sharkey32417
Issaquena1204
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 252900

Reported Deaths: 3638
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson33526501
Mobile20103365
Madison13723151
Tuscaloosa13366154
Montgomery12552236
Shelby1079677
Baldwin9051137
Lee787266
Morgan696451
Calhoun6598121
Etowah656167
Marshall647357
Houston541038
DeKalb498137
Cullman462443
St. Clair441956
Limestone440445
Lauderdale426754
Elmore421164
Walker3735111
Talladega370157
Jackson340423
Colbert332042
Blount306140
Autauga281842
Franklin257434
Coffee250015
Dale239054
Dallas231532
Chilton228939
Russell22663
Covington225034
Escambia202331
Tallapoosa187291
Chambers182750
Pike161514
Clarke161019
Marion144736
Winston137523
Lawrence133436
Pickens126518
Geneva12508
Marengo123424
Bibb120418
Barbour118911
Butler118642
Randolph105522
Cherokee105124
Hale98131
Fayette94616
Washington93219
Clay92824
Henry8896
Monroe83011
Lowndes80929
Cleburne78814
Macon75522
Crenshaw72230
Bullock70119
Lamar7018
Conecuh70014
Perry6916
Wilcox64818
Sumter58622
Greene43518
Choctaw43114
Coosa3664
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