JACKSON—U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith accepted a donation from Peter Sieve, a businessman in Washington state known for his white supremacist views, just days after a video published by Bayou Brief surfaced in which she says she would be “on the front row” if a supporter invited her to “a public hanging.”
Zieve donated $2,700, the max donation an individual can make, to Hyde-Smith’s campaign on Nov. 14. Progressive newsletter Popular Info first reported the donation, which came three days progressive blogger Lamar White published the video on the Bayou Brief on Nov. 11.
Zieve Paid Staff to Procreate, Called Immigrants ‘Rubbish’
The State of Washington sued Zieve in 2011 for refusing to hire Muslims at his business, Electroimpact. He required applicants to submit photos of themselves, documents show.
"I can tell you that most Chinese hate moslems,” the lawsuit quotes him saying in an April 2015 email. “Not as much as me, but an adequate amount of hate."
In an October 2015 email, Zieve responded to an employee’s announcement that his wife had given birth to a baby by writing that “381,000 terrorist savages have gotten into Europe so far this year and if we don’t make more babies the light will (go) out on civilization.”
He offered members of his nearly all-white staff a $1,000 marriage bonus and a $1,000 “procreation bonus.”
Zieve explained the bonuses in 2015 emails to employees, court documents reveal.
“When (our sons and daughters) choose to not repopulate and allow our wonderful country to be backfilled with rubbish from the desperate and criminal populations of the third world, I find that to be disgusting and I find those persons to make these decisions to be repulsive and I don’t like them around me,” Zieve wrote in an email that February.
In another email, sent in December, Zieve seems to reference a popular neo-Nazi slogan.
“The future can only be secured by building families,” he wrote. That sounds like a reference to the Fourteen Words, a neo-Nazi slogan inspired by Adolf Hitler’s writing and used by white supremacists worldwide.
“We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children,” the Fourteen Words read.
The Fourteen Words appear in the White Genocide Manifesto written by David Lane, a founder of the white supremacist terrorist organization known as The Order. He also wrote the 88 Precepts essay, which advocates for racial religions, rejects universal religions like Christianity, opposes integration and argues for segregation. White supremacists often use 14/88 to refer to the two documents.
In 2018, the Trump administration’s U.S. Department of Homeland Security came under fire for a document with a 14-word title similar to the one neo-Nazis use that included references to the number 88.
“We Must Secure the Border and Build the Wall to Make America Safe Again,” reads the title of the document. The Trump administration denied any intent to invoke the Fourteen Words.
A foiled 2008 white supremacist plot to assassinate then-presidential candidate Barack Obama included plans to murder 88 African Americans, including Obama, and behead 14.
Zieve donated over $1 million to Donald Trump in 2016.
‘Sorry, I Can’t Help You. Bye.’
The Jackson Free Press contacted Zieve Friday to ask why he donated to Hyde-Smith.
“I believe she’s a Republican,” he said.
When asked if Hyde-Smith’s “public hanging” played any role in his donation, Zieve denied knowledge of the comment and quickly hung up the phone.
“I don’t know anything about that. Sorry, I can’t help you. Bye,” Zieve told the Jackson Free Press.
On Thursday night, the Jackson Free Press asked Hyde-Smith’s communications director, Melissa Scallan, about the donation and whether the campaign would return it, but she declined to comment until she spoke to the campaign’s finance department. As of 4 p.m. Friday, though, she had not responded.
Hyde-Smith’s hanging comment, made on Nov. 2, drew sharp criticism because Mississippi historically had the highest rate of lynchings of African Americans. The clip drew rebuke from the likes of Democratic Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, Democratic Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson, conservative Mississippi Tea Party Chairwoman Laura Van Overschelde and the NAACP.
On Thursday, Bayou Brief published a second video. In that clip, Hyde-Smith seems to call voter suppression a “good idea.”
“And then they remind me that there’s a lot of liberal folks in those schools who maybe we don’t want to vote,” Hyde-Smith says. “Maybe we can make it just a little more difficult. And I think that's a great idea.”
Scallan said told the Jackson Free Press Thursday that the comment was a joke and that Hyde-Smith was referring to the idea of putting polling places on college campuses a “great idea”—not “(making) it just a little more difficult” to vote.
Zieve’s Anti-Muslim Extremism
Court documents reveal Zieve’s employees regularly engaged in anti-Muslim rhetoric.
“How do you save half the Muslims? Kill the other half,” one employee wrote in a company “jokes” listserv. In December 2015, Zieve sent an email to the listserv saying “American born Muslims are almost as dangerous as the Syrian imports.”
Zieve settled the lawsuit for $485,000 in 2017 and issued an apology.
Afterward, he made a run for Mukilteo City Council in Washington, and part of his platform included a plank to “strengthen public safety in response to transient and criminal populations moving into Mukilteo.” He attacked his opponent for neither being married nor having kids. He lost after winning 33 percent of the vote.
In 2016, Zieve admitted he was behind a campaign to stop construction of a mosque in Mukilteo.
Scallan would not comment on the donation Thursday evening.
Zieve made maximum donations to other Republican candidates this year, including to Rick Scott’s U.S. Senate campaign in Florida, Marsha Blackburn’s U.S. Senate campaign in Tennessee, Martha McSally’s U.S. Senate campaign in Arizona, and dozens more. His donations to GOP candidates go back decades.
He is one of the top donors to Solution Fund, a Louisiana-based Super PAC that in 2017 supported Republican Roy Moore’s failed bid for U.S. Senate in Alabama. That year, the PAC used Trump’s attacks on black NFL players to boost fundraising and help Moore’s campaign.
Hyde-Smith Faces Espy in Debate, Nov. 27 Runoff
On Nov. 20, Mississippi Farm Bureau will host Espy and Hyde-Smith for a U.S. Senate debate that will be broadcast on WLBT, WLOX and radio stations statewide. It will be the first U.S. Senate debate in Mississippi in 10 years.
No matter who wins, the Nov. 27 runoff will be historic. When Gov. Phil Bryant appointed her, Hyde-Smith became the first woman to represent Mississippi in Congress and could be the first duly elected come November. If Espy wins, he would be the first black U.S. senator from the state since Reconstruction, when Sens. Hiram Revels and Blanche K. Bruce represented the state in Washington, D.C., until the end of Reconstruction brought the disenfranchisement of black voters.
Hyde-Smith and Espy headed to a runoff after snagging the top two spots in the general election on Nov. 6, with neither getting an outright majority. Hyde-Smith beat back a challenge from a fellow Republican, Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel, whom her campaign argued could lose to Espy because of his "toxic" history of remarks about race and gender.
"If Chris McDaniel made the runoff against Democrat Mike Espy, his toxic image would put the seat at risk in much the same way Roy Moore lost the Alabama Senate race to Democrat Doug Jones," Scallan said in September.
Around 900,000 Mississippians voted in this year's election—a midterm turnout record of 40 percent, up from 29.7 percent in 2014. Anyone who registered to vote by Oct. 29 will be eligible to vote in the runoff, even if they could not vote in the Nov. 6 election. Voters must have a valid form of photo ID, such as a driver's license or student ID. The Secretary of State's website has a full list of acceptable forms of ID. Polls are open in Mississippi from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Ashton Pittman covers politics and elections for the Jackson Free Press. Follow him on Twitter at @ashtonpittman. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more 2018 campaign coverage at jacksonfreepress.com/2018elections.