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

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.

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.

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Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (L) stands on stage with US President Donald Trump at a 'Make America Great Again' rally at Landers Center in Southaven, Mississippi, on October 2, 2018. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 14: Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., leaves the Capitol after a vote on Thursday, June 14, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
President Donald Trump and Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., hug during a rally in Tupelo, Miss., Monday, Nov. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 25: Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) greets Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, in her office on Capitol Hill, on July 25, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Al Drago/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump points as the walks with Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., at Tupelo Regional Airport, Monday, Nov. 26, 2018, in Tupelo, Miss. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 16: EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, acknowledges Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MI) after arriving at a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill, May 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. The Subcommittee is hearing testimony on the proposed budget estimates for FY2019 for the Environmental Protection Agency. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., speaks at a rally with President Donald Trump at Tupelo Regional Airport, Monday, Nov. 26, 2018, in Tupelo, Miss. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Incumbent Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith greets supporters at a Make America Great Again rally at the airport in Tupelo, Mississippi on November 26, 2018 (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith peaks out from behind a curtain before a rally with US President Donald Trump at Landers Center Ð Arena in Southaven, Mississippi, on October 2, 2018. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 26: Sens. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss., talk before the Senate Policy luncheons in the Capitol on June 26, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - MAY 8: Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., arrives in the Capitol on Tuesday, May 8, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
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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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