San Francisco Giants owner wants controversial donation to Cindy Hyde-Smith campaign returned

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Mark Townsend
·Yahoo Sports Contributor
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The political donations of owner Charles B. Johnson are reflecting poorly on the San Francisco Giants. (AP)
The political donations of owner Charles B. Johnson are reflecting poorly on the San Francisco Giants. (AP)

San Francisco Giants’ principal owner Charles B. Johnson is backtracking once again following a controversial political donation.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported last week that Johnson and his wife, Ann, each donated the maximum $2,700 to the campaign of Cindy Hyde-Smith ahead of Tuesday’s runoff in Mississippi to determine the final Senate seat in the 2018 midterm elections.

While the polls were still open on Tuesday, Johnson released a statement asking that his donation be returned in full. The statement also distanced Johnson’s political views and donations from those of the Giants organization.

“I would like to provide important context related to my political donation to Cindy Hyde-Smith,” the statement reads. “I was not aware of the controversy surrounding Hyde-Smith when I made the donation. I strongly condemn any form of racism and I have asked for my contribution to be returned.”

“My political donations are my own personal donations, which have no affiliation with the Giants or any other company.”

The statement did not indicate whether Johnson’s wife is seeking for her donation to be returned.

Late Tuesday, The New York Times, CNN and NBC called the race for Hyde-Smith.

Who is Cindy Hyde-Smith?

In April 2018, Cindy Hyde-Smith was appointed by Mississippi governor Phil Bryant to assume the Senate seat vacated by ailing senator Thad Cochran.

Leading up to Tuesday’s special election, Hyde-Smith has come under fire for a series of distasteful comments and questionable public displays. Most notably, a video from Hyde-Smith’s campaign rally in Tupelo on Nov. 11 shows her joking with a supporter that she would gladly be his guest for a public hanging. “I’d be in the front row,” Hyde-Smith exclaimed. Hyde-Smith has since apologized for the comment, but not before losing support from several corporations, including Wal-Mart.

Hyde-Smith has also been seen wearing a Confederate rebel hat in a Facebook photo.

Fallout from donations to Cindy Hyde-Smith’s campaign

The Giants join a growing list of companies that have asked Hyde-Smith campaign to return donations in light of her comments and conduct. As we learned over the weekend, that list includes Major League Baseball.

Locally, news of Johnson’s donations to the Hyde-Smith campaign has led to Bay Area civil-rights leaders calling for boycotts. According to public election filings, the donations from Charles B. Johnson and Ann L. Johnson were made nine days after Hyde-Smith’s original “public hanging” video became a story. Many feel it’s something the family should have been aware of. The slow response to last week’s report hasn’t helped their cause either.

Even worse, it’s the second time in less than two months that Johnson has been forced to acknowledge a political donation and ultimately denounce the actions of the recipient. Last month, it was reported that a $1,000 donation was allocated to a super PAC that produced a racist and misogynistic ad supporting Republican Congressman French Hill.

Johnson family attorney Joe Cotchett says the money was returned from the super PAC donation.

Johnson currently holds a 25 percent ownership stake in the Giants, giving him the largest stake in the team’s ownership group.

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