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

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith making her victory speech in Jackson (NBC News)

Hyde-Smith's comments about attending a "public hanging" prompted major corporate interests to demand refunds of their political donations.

Posted: Dec 28, 2018 5:58 AM
Updated: Dec 28, 2018 6:40 AM

(CNN) -- 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.

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: 307094

Reported Deaths: 7086
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20729248
Hinds19851407
Harrison17465302
Rankin13297275
Jackson13090243
Madison9876210
Lee9849169
Jones8288160
Forrest7511146
Lauderdale7170237
Lowndes6256144
Lamar609684
Lafayette6020117
Washington5278132
Bolivar4768129
Oktibbeha455097
Panola4430103
Pearl River4414139
Warren4277118
Marshall4262100
Pontotoc416372
Monroe4055131
Union403275
Neshoba3979176
Lincoln3870107
Hancock371584
Leflore3468124
Sunflower329289
Tate322181
Pike3170104
Scott310172
Yazoo304168
Alcorn297464
Itawamba296576
Copiah292463
Coahoma289277
Simpson287384
Tippah284568
Prentiss275259
Marion265479
Wayne261341
Leake260973
Covington254380
Grenada254382
Adams245882
Newton244659
George237646
Winston225981
Tishomingo222067
Jasper219748
Attala213273
Chickasaw204857
Holmes186371
Clay182354
Stone178631
Clarke176475
Tallahatchie175140
Calhoun163130
Smith158534
Yalobusha158536
Walthall130443
Greene129333
Lawrence126123
Noxubee125833
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120726
Amite119940
Webster113432
Jefferson Davis105332
Tunica102425
Claiborne101230
Benton97225
Kemper95026
Humphreys94332
Franklin81523
Quitman78516
Choctaw72816
Jefferson64828
Wilkinson64427
Sharkey49517
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 518234

Reported Deaths: 10686
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson752631485
Mobile37687797
Madison33784490
Tuscaloosa25231442
Montgomery23928563
Shelby23088237
Baldwin20600300
Lee15491165
Calhoun14270311
Morgan14135268
Etowah13657344
Marshall11941219
Houston10373277
Elmore9979200
Limestone9797146
Cullman9458188
St. Clair9419234
Lauderdale9196227
DeKalb8733181
Talladega8035168
Walker7083275
Jackson6751110
Autauga6710103
Blount6475134
Colbert6199129
Coffee5394112
Dale4764110
Russell426837
Franklin419782
Chilton4076109
Covington4054113
Tallapoosa3895147
Escambia387374
Dallas3523149
Chambers3496122
Clarke346160
Marion3064100
Pike305375
Lawrence295095
Winston272271
Bibb256158
Marengo248560
Geneva245875
Pickens232958
Barbour224555
Hale218775
Butler211866
Fayette208860
Henry187744
Cherokee181843
Randolph176341
Monroe171140
Washington163838
Macon154548
Clay149354
Crenshaw149257
Cleburne146041
Lamar139234
Lowndes136453
Wilcox124326
Bullock121340
Conecuh109028
Perry107926
Sumter103032
Coosa98827
Greene90834
Choctaw58624
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