Pfizer wants to reel back contributions to Hyde-Smith after her remarks about ‘public hanging’ spark controversy

After giving Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith $5,000 for her election bid this year, Pfizer $PFE now wants its money back.

Cindy Hyde-Smith

Hyde-Smith landed up in the spotlight this week after a video appeared on social media in which she told a supporter who had praised her: “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”

The comment immediately lit up a controversy over a possible allusion to a lynching, a potent topic in a state which is 37% black.

Mike Epsy

As for the Republican Hyde-Smith, she said that the comment was being twisted and weaponized by her opponent, Democrat Mike Espy, who is black. They’re engaged in a runoff election coming up next week.

Whatever she meant, it was too hot for Pfizer to dismiss.

“We condemn racism and bigotry in all its forms,” Pfizer spokesperson Sharon Castillo told reporters on Tuesday. “We are withdrawing our support and have requested a full refund of our contributions, which were made months in advance of the senator’s comments.”

And Pfizer wasn’t alone. Walmart and others also demanded a refund.

Pfizer has contributed $2.3 million to candidates and political groups in the 2018 election cycle, according to Open Secrets. And it offers money to Republicans and Democrats, much like many Big Pharmas with important legislative issues coming up in Washington DC.

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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