Pfizer, Amgen, Walmart withdrawing support for Republican senator

“We condemn racism and bigotry in all its forms,” Pfizer spokesperson Sharon Castillo told ABC News 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.”

Pfizer, Amgen, Walmart withdrawing support for Republican senator

Andrew Kelly/Reuters, FILEA man walks past Pfizer’s world headquarters in New York, April 28, 2014.

Pfizer has made two contributions totaling $5,000.

Other companies in the pharmaceutical and medical industry, including Amgen, Leidos and Boston Scientific have requested refunds ranging from $2,000 to $5,000.

Pfizer and Amgen are among the leaders in the industry in terms of lobbying and for making campaign contributions in 2018, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Hyde-Smith’s assignment to the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Food and Drug Administration earlier this year “could not be more critical” for such companies to build relationship with the senator for “influence and access,” according to Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for the nonprofit consumer advocacy organization, Public Citizen.

However, Hyde-Smith’s recent remark led big names in the industry turn away from her.

The video in question shows Hyde-Smith in Tupelo, Mississippi, embracing a supporter and saying, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”

After the video was posted on Twitter, Hyde-Smith did not apologize but defended herself.

“In a comment on Nov. 2, I referred to accepting an invitation to a speaking engagement,” she said in a statement. “In referencing the one who invited me, I used an exaggerated expression of regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous.”

When actress Debra Messing criticized Walmart for its donation to Hyde-Smith, the company responded that the senator’s comments “clearly do not reflect the values of our company and associates.”

Walmart requested a full refund of $4,000 Tuesday, according to a company spokesperson, while AT&T has also requested a refund of $2,000.

ABC News has reached out to the senator’s campaign office Tuesday but has not yet received a response.

Sen. Hyde-Smith, however, did vaguely refer to the “public hanging” comment and apologized at a debate with her opponent Espy on Tuesday.

“For anyone that was offended by my comments, I certainly apologize,” she said. “There was no ill will, no intent, whatsoever in my statements.”

(MORE: Hyde-Smith alleges ‘public hanging’ comment used as ‘political weapon’ amid tightening Mississippi senate race)

(MORE: Controversies hamper candidates in Mississippi Senate race)

Four days after the first video surfaced, another video from Nov. 3 was tweeted in which Hyde-Smith tells a group of supporters in Starkville, Mississippi, that it would be a “great idea” to make voting “just a little more difficult” for “liberal folks.”

Hyde-Smith’s campaign once again refused to apologize and released a statement saying, “Obviously Sen. Hyde-Smith was making a joke and clearly the video was selectively edited.”

Hyde-Smith, appointed by Gov. Phil Bryant, is facing the runoff with Espy after she netted 41.4 percent of the vote on Election Day while Espy had 40.6 percent.


Pfizer, Amgen, Walmart withdrawing support for Republican senator

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