UPDATE, Nov. 26, 4:22 p.m. Amgen spokeswoman Kelly Davenport returned Sludge’s inquiry about the timing of this latest donation: “Amgen mailed the check to the campaign prior to Amgen’s request for a refund, and we have confirmed a stop order on the check.”
On Nov. 23, the political action committee of biopharmaceutical company Amgen gave the maximum legal contribution of $5,000 to the campaign of Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), according to a new Hyde-Smith report filed with the Federal Election Commission. The contribution was made two days after Amgen said it would be requesting a refund of contributions it had already made to Hyde-Smith.
Amgen is one of several companies that said it would request refunds from Hyde-Smith after the senator said about one of her supporters on Nov. 2, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”
Asked to explain the PAC’s Nov. 23 contribution, Amgen spokesperson Kelley Davenport responded to Sludge by email, saying the company’s statement remains the same as before:
“In light of recent events, Amgen is requesting a refund of its campaign contributions to Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith. Amgen is committed to a culture of diversity and inclusion. We believe that an environment of diversity and inclusion fosters innovation, which drives our ability to serve patients. For more information on Amgen’s commitment to Diversity and Inclusion, please visit our Diversity and Inclusion page.”
Davenport did not initially answer questions about why the donation came two days after Amgen first said it would request a refund of its contributions to Hyde-Smith or if the contribution date was misreported by the Hyde-Smith campaign. On Nov. 26, Davenport emailed Sludge to say, “Amgen mailed the check to the campaign prior to Amgen’s request for a refund, and we have confirmed a stop order on the check.”
Hyde-Smith’s comments accompany a pattern of embracing Confederate history, including sponsoring legislation to rename a stretch highway after the Confederate States’ only president, posing for a photo in a Confederate hat and holding a rifle—which she captioned “Mississippi history at its best!”—and giving Confederate heritage group Dixie Alliance an award for best parade float.
President Donald Trump tweeted on Sunday that he will be part of two rallies on Monday supporting Hyde-Smith, whom the characterized as “an outstanding person.”
Mississippi had the most lynchings of any state from 1882-1968, according to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
On Nov. 21 an Amgen spokeswoman told CNBC that the company’s PAC would request a refund of its contributions to Hyde-Smith. At the time, records showed that the PAC had given at total of $4,000 in May and early November. “Amgen is committed to a culture of diversity and inclusion. We believe that an environment of diversity and inclusion fosters innovation, which drives our ability to serve patients,” the spokeswoman told CNBC.
Hyde-Smith is facing a runoff election on Nov. 27 against Democratic challenger Mark Espy, who would be the first black senator from Mississippi since Reconstruction.
Amgen chairman and CEO Robert Bradway donated $10,000 on Oct. 9 to the National Republican Senate Committee (NRSC), the main Senate Republican fundraising group, which has spent nearly $1.8 million on ads supporting Hyde-Smith since Nov. 7.
This article and its headline have been updated to reflect new information provided by an Amgen spokeswoman.