MLB withdraws donation to Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith before Miss. runoff vote

Major League Baseball on Monday said it has asked Mississippi Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith to return a $5,000 donation amid prolonged criticism related to a divisive comment Hyde-Smith made during a Nov. 2 event.

Hyde-Smith, who faces Democrat challenger Mike Espy in a runoff election vote on Tuesday, rankled critics when she greeted a cattle rancher at a campaign event by saying, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.” The incumbent U.S. senator later apologized for the remark, stating that there was “no ill will” behind it.

“The contribution was made in connection with an event that MLB lobbyists were asked to attend,” an MLB spokesperson said in a statement. “MLB has requested that the contribution be returned.”

The senator’s representatives did not immediately return a request for comment. MLB’s donation was made weeks after Hyde-Smith’s remark, USA Today reported.

MLB is one of several entities that faced criticism for donating to Hyde-Smith’s campaign. Walmart also asked the campaign to return its donation.