On Nov. 11, Bayou Brief publisher Lamar White, Jr. tweeted out a video of Mississippi Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith saying that she would be “on the front row” if one of her supporters invited her to a “public hanging.” The senator faces a black Democrat, Mike Espy, in today’s Senate runoff election. Mississippi had more Reconstruction-era lynchings than any other state.
Since White, Jr.’s tweet, eight corporations have announced that they would ask for a refund of their political action committees’ donations to Hyde-Smith, saying her statement did not reflect their corporate values. Other corporations have not asked for refunds.
Hyde-Smith’s racist comments led reporters to investigate her past, which is checkered with enthusiastic efforts to commemorate Confederate history. But none of the backlash over her comments has stopped independent political spending groups from pouring money into the runoff to support the senator.
These groups, mostly super PACs, have spent close to $3.7 million on ads to boost Hyde-Smith since her public hanging remark, according to Sludge’s review of Federal Election Committee reports as of Tuesday morning.
Leading the pack are two GOP committees, the National Republican Senate Committee, a party group that has spent $1.8 million to aid Hyde-Smith since Nov. 13, and the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC that has spent $1.2 million. Other groups such as the pro-Trump America First Action ($271,000), the Mississippi Victory Fund ($174,000), and the National Rifle Association ($82,000) have also supported Hyde-Smith over the last two weeks.
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Liberal groups are being outspent three-to-one by those boosting Hyde-Smith. Espy has gotten help from Senate Majority PAC, which has spent $874,000 on independent expenditures since Hyde-Smith’s hanging comment. Only one other group, the Progressive Turnout Project, has spent more than $100,000 to benefit Espy since then.
The National Republican Senate Committee’s counterpart on the left, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, hasn’t reported any spending on the race, despite having spent millions to oppose Republican Senate candidates in other states. The Democratic National Committee has donated roughly $327,000 since June to the Mississippi Democratic Party, which is investing in get-out-the-vote efforts but hasn’t made any independent expenditures. The state GOP has spent a modest $11,000 on outside advertising backing Hyde-Smith since the Nov. 7 general election.
Listed below are the 23 independent groups that have spent on the race since Nov. 13 and their spending totals as of Tuesday morning.
The funding behind these recent expenditures isn’t completely clear, as committees don’t need to report their most recent donors until the next reporting deadline. But groups backing Hyde-Smith have reported many corporations, corporate PACs and business executives as donors since Oct. 1, Sludge has found. These donors include GOP heavyweights such as Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman, banker Charles Schwab, and hedge fund manager Paul Singer, and corporations including Marathon Petroleum, Wheatland Tube, and Altria.
See below for selected contributions from corporations and from executives and employees who work for these corporations to the groups supporting Hyde-Smith.
If Hyde-Smith, who is still the favorite, wins, Republicans will have a 53-47 advantage in the next session of the Senate.