San Francisco Giants owner makes another controversial political donation

Mark Townsend
·Yahoo Sports Contributor

San Francisco Giants’ principal owner Charles B. Johnson is drawing criticism again after contributing to a controversial political campaign for the second time in under two months.

According to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, 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.

Hyde-Smith, an incumbent Republican U.S. Senator, will face Democrat Mike Espy.

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. The appointment made Hyde-Smith the first woman to represent the state in the U.S. Senate. Before taking the senate position, Hyde-Smith served as Mississippi’s Agriculture Commissioner.

Why is the donation considered controversial?

Because Hyde-Smith has quite a history of making distasteful comments and engaging in questionable conduct.

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.

“Sen. Hyde-Smith’s comments clearly do not reflect the values of our company and associates,” Wal-Mart said in a statement. “As a result we are withdrawing our support and requesting a refund of all campaign donations.”

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

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)

How does this reflect poorly on the Giants?

For starters, it comes on the heels of Johnson’s reported $1,000 donation to a super PAC that produced a shockingly racist and misogynistic ad that supported Republican Congressman French Hill, who was running for re-election in Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional district.

Johnson quickly denounced that ad. The Giants also released a statement distancing the team from Johnson’s political viewpoints and donations.

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” became a story. Many feel it’s something they should have been aware of and more sensitive to.

Johnson currently holds a 25 percent ownership stake in the Giants, giving him the largest stake in the team’s ownership group. That makes him a central figure in the organization’s all-around makeup.

As Yahoo Sports’ Jack Baer noted in October, Johnson is on record having made several significant contributions to conservative organizations in recent years. That in and of itself hasn’t been an issue until the recent connections to these controversies. But it could make for an awkward relationship going forward as San Francisco is among the most diverse and liberal-leaning cities in America.

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