Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith’s Mississippi campaign for the last open Senate seat of the midterm season could be going better. Earlier this month, Hyde-Smith made an unfortunate reference to attending a “public hanging” which many constituents found offensive, due to Mississippi’s history of, you know, extrajudicially hanging people. Later, a tape was released that featured a recording of Hyde-Smith “joking” about voter suppression. And today, a photo surfaced that showed Hyde-Smith in 2014 at a memorial for Confederate president Jefferson Davis wearing a Confederate military cap. The photo was captioned “Mississippi history at its best!” Cool!
In fact, possibly the only public entity that’s had a worse week than Hyde-Smith is Facebook, who were torn apart by a New York Times piece that revealed aggressive PR tactics including pushing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Subsequently, Facebook’s stock has fallen by 20 percent.
Now, a report from the Daily Beast reveals an unlikely connection between these two stories. Napster founder and former president of Facebook Sean Parker apparently gave money to the Mississippi Victory Fund, one of the PACs supporting Hyde-Smith’s campaign.
Parker’s representatives say he had no intention of donating to Hyde-Smith directly. He apparently gave money to the PAC in order to defeat Hyde-Smith’s Republican opponent in the primary race, Chris McDaniel, a hardcore racist who lost badly. But now, that money is being used to fund Hyde-Smith’s runoff race against Democratic candidate Mike Espy.
From the Daily Beast:
In a statement to The Daily Beast, a spokesperson for Parker tried to distance him from the Senator. “Mr. Parker doesn’t know Cindy Hyde-Smith and finds her rhetoric reprehensible,” the spokesperson said. “His contribution from early this year was a continuation of the effort to defeat McDaniel.”
But Parker’s spokesman gave no indication that he planned to ask for a refund for any of his sizable contributions to the pro-Hyde-Smith group. “Mr. Parker’s connection to the Mississippi Victory Fund goes back to 2014 and is expressly tied to helping defeat Chris McDaniel,” the spokesman wrote. And his money remains the largest contribution this cycle to a group spending significant sums on Hyde-Smith’s behalf ahead of the November 27 runoff election.
It’s great that Parker didn’t want a candidate who took money from the KKK to win. However, supporting a candidate, even indirectly, that constantly makes racially coded comments in a race against a black man isn’t much of an improvement. Why didn’t Parker instead donate to Espy’s campaign? McDaniel lost badly to Hyde-Smith, surely Espy would have as well.
It seems he had no intention of doing so, as he began donating to the MVF back in April. He was the group’s largest contributor, giving over $250,000. Much of this money has been used to trash Espy.
Since that initial vote, MVF has reported spending about $112,000 on digital and direct mail advertising attacking Espy. One of the group’s recent Facebook ads charged that Democrats have “resorted to the politics of personal destruction by distorting the truth and attacking the character of Cindy Hyde-Smith.”
Like many rich tech guys, Parker has donated to both Republicans and Democrats in the past, though he did support Hillary Clinton in 2016.
While she still holds a lead, Hyde-Smith’s race continues to slide off a cliff. Even Walmart announced they wouldn’t support her anymore. She apologized for her comments in a debate on Tuesday evening, saying she was sorry “for anyone offended by my comments,” adding that there “was no ill will intended.” But the race isn’t over yet, and President Trump has promised he will come out to support her at two campaign events before the runoff election on November 27th. We can’t wait!