Google is reportedly rescinding a $5,000 donation to US senator Cindy Hyde-Smith over controversial remarks the Mississippi politician recently made. But, apparently, the company is trying to keep it under wraps. Wishy-washy is definitely in this year.
In leaked emails obtained by investigative news source Popular Information, it appears Google has officially requested the campaign offices of Hyde-Smith return the company’s $5,000 donation.
According to the report, an email sent by someone at the head of Google’s NetPAC (a political lobby) indicated the company desired the donation’s rescinding as a direct response to Hyde-Smith’s recent controversial remarks where she joked with a political supporter that she’d be in “the front row” if he invited her to a public hanging.
This video from The Jackson Free Press shows the incident and remarks in question:
Mississippi, a state whose legacy includes the lynching of more African-Americans than any other, has faced difficulty separating itself from the racism in its past. Whether or not her statement was intended to carry racial connotations, the senator is in a unique position to understand the state’s history.
Hyde-Smith once attended a whites-only private school, has posted pictures of herself holding Confederate weapons on Facebook with the caption “Mississippi’s history at its best,” and recently jokedabout making it harder for liberals to vote. It follows, then, that comments concerning public hangings in the context of a political race against an African-American opponent would be taken in a negative context.
But back to Google.
The leaked email shows that Google had already asked for a refund as of last week, yet there’s been no communication (that we know of) with media outlets and no official statement from the company. Mum’s the word.
In essence, Google is choosing to avoid any manner of political statement, yet also choosing to avoid being affiliated with the senator — which is a political statement. Perhaps this is more evidence the company can’t figure out how to grow up and publicly embrace the decisions it makes.
Major League Baseball, on the other hand, had no qualms with announcing its decision to revoke a similar donation to Hyde-Smith’s campaign.
We reached out to Google but didn’t get an immediate response.
Update 11/26 16:49 CST:CNBC reports an official Google spokesperson has confirmed the company asked Hyde-Smith’s office for a refund of the donation.