U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith declined to return more than $50,000 to corporate donors who requested refunds from her campaign in November, new FEC filings released Thursday show.
Companies that had donated to the Mississippi Republican's campaign through corporate PACs began making the requests after a video surfaced during the U.S. Senate runoff of the junior senator from Mississippi saying she would "be on the front row" if a constituent invited her to "a public hanging."
Among the companies that requested, but did not receive, refunds are Walmart, Google, AT&T, Union Pacific, Pfizer, Aetna, Walgreens and others. Candidates are not required by law to honor refund requests.
Earlier this month, The New York Times erroneously reported that the campaign had refunded Major League Baseball the $5,000 it had given her. In fact, the filings show that MLB simply cancelled the transaction before it could process. One other company, the drugmaker Amgen, was able to cancel a $5,000 donation as well, but still had not received a refund for $4,000 it donated earlier in the year.
After the "hanging" video went public, journalist Judd Legum, whose newsletter Popular Info specializes in investigating money and advertising in politics and media, reported extensively on Hyde-Smith's donors and led a public pressure campaign on Twitter to urge companies to request refunds.
Senator Gives Selective Refunds
After the new FEC filings published Thursday, Legum again reported their contents, noting that Hyde-Smith did refund a $2,700 donation to Charles B. Johnson, the majority owner of the San Francisco Giants, and $2,700 to his wife, Ann L. Johnson.
The Johnsons were among the top individual donors donating exclusively to Republican campaigns, committees and Super PACs during the 2017-2018 cycle, giving nearly $5 million to help GOP candidates, OpenSecrets.org's list of top individual donors shows.
Hyde-Smith's refusal to issue around $50,000 in refunds to others who have