/Hyde-Smith slams Espy lobbying deal in Africa, draws new fire for ‘joke’ about making liberal voting harder

Hyde-Smith slams Espy lobbying deal in Africa, draws new fire for ‘joke’ about making liberal voting harder

Lamar White Jr., a Louisiana political blogger, posted a video Thursday night showing Hyde-Smith outside her campaign bus at the Nov. 3 event in Starkville. It was located near the Mississippi State University campus. Hyde-Smith told supporters, “And then they remind us that there are a lot of liberal people in those other schools that maybe we don’t want to vote.” “Maybe, we want it to be just a little harder. “So I think that’s great idea.” In the video, Hyde Smith doesn’t specify who she is referring to in the 17-second long. The Hyde Smith campaign didn’t respond to a question regarding which schools she was referring in the video. Hyde-Smith made this comment the weekend she stated she would attend a “public hanging”, at a supporter’s invitation. This comment created a storm and thrust race to her front-end campaign against Democrat Mike Espy who is running to be the first African American elected to the U.S. Senate. The comment also rekindled national interest in the race, which led to increased national contributions to both campaigns. On Thursday evening, influential Mississippians suggested that Hyde Smith’s comments were racially motivated. Mississippi State University is 71% white, which is where Hyde Smith made the comment. Only 18% of Starkville’s student body are African American. Seven historically black colleges and universities are located in the state. Melissa Scallan spokeswoman for the campaign. She stated that “Obviously Sen. Hyde Smith was making a joke” and that the video was edited selectively. “Now the liberal media wants us to talk about Mike Espy’s corruption record and taking $750,000 (and lying about it) from an African dictator, including murder, torture, and rape, said Melissa Scallan, spokeswoman for the campaign. Danny Blanton, Espy campaign spokesperson, stated that the video was not funny in a state such as Mississippi where voting rights were obtained by sweat and blood. White, founder and publisher of The Bayou Brief, an online news organization that is based in Louisiana, posted the video at 4:45 p.m. Thursday. White is described by the website as “one of Louisiana’s most acclaimed online journalist and prominent progressive activists.” White said that the same source sent him the “public hanging” video, and that he has no reason to believe that the video was altered in any way. According to the Hyde Smith statement, the Fox News story that Espy lobbying for the Ivory Coast was published Thursday. It details President Laurent Gbagbo’s actions in 2010 when the country was then under his control. According to Fox News, Espy stated that he terminated the lobbying contract in response to reports of unrest in Africa. Later documents from the Department of Justice showed that Espy received the full $750,00 payment. Fox News posted the document with the story. Melissa Scallan, communications director of the Hyde Smith campaign, said that Mike Espy received three quarters of an million dollars as a registered foreign agent to lobby for a dictator of Ivory Coast. “Espy lied regarding how much he was paid…Mike Espy has clearly been the most liberal candidate in Mississippi History.” Espy, who was the former U.S. secretary for Agriculture, was lobbying for Ivory Coast Cocoa and Coffee Board. Fox News was told by Espy’s spokesperson that Secretary Espy had worked on agricultural issues for international clients. He realized that one of the clients had not passed the smell-taste test, so he ended the contract and reported the information to the U.S. government. Phil Bryant, a Republican, was the one who appointed Hyde Smith to the Senate. He tweeted Thursday evening: “Espy should explain this crime against humanity to our bipartisan media. “Seeing how it took a national news station to report the story, I’m certain they’ll have lots of questions to ask.” Espy’s campaign stated Thursday to Mississippi Today that the Hyde Smith campaign was trying to shift the topic from Espy’s controversial remarks and the fact that she refused to apologize. “Cindy Hyde Smith had the chance to admit that she was wrong and she didn’t apologize. Blanton stated that she is trying to make the topic more interesting by launching a smear campaign against Mike, since this has not worked. Contributing: Alex Rozier Mississippi Today’s complete coverage of the historic runoff between Cindy Hyde Smith and Mike Espy. To support this work, make a regular donation to the Spring Member Drive today. This will allow us to continue important work such as this story.