A handful of GOP candidates received donations from the leader of a white supremacist group that was cited in a manifesto believed to be authored by Dylann Roof, the man who shot and killed nine people in a Charleston, South Carolina church last week.
The donations, first reported by The Guardian, came from a man named Earl Holt. He is president of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a group that the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as " the modern reincarnation of the old White Citizens Councils, which were formed in the 1950s and 1960s to battle school desegregation in the South." Since 2012 Holt has contributed $8,500 to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and his political action committee; $1,750 to the political action committee of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky (filings here, here, here and here), and $1,500 to former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (filings here, here and here.
Holt also gave $2,000 to 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney's presidential campaign and has donated tens of thousands of dollars to other Republicans in Congress, sometimes listing his occupation as "slumlord."
Catherine Frazier, a spokesman for Cruz, said the senator would be returning the money, which was given over 12 separate donations dating back to 2012 (filings here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here).
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"Senator Cruz believes that there is no place for racism in society. Upon learning about Mr. Holt's background and his contributions to the campaign, he immediately instructed that all of those donations be returned," Frazier told CBS News.
Doug Stafford, a senior advisor to Rand Paul, said RandPAC will be donating the funds to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund to assist the the families of the shooting victims. Santorum said in a statement released Monday he will do the same.
"Rather than put more money back in the pockets of such an individual, my 2012 campaign committee will be donating the amount of his past donations to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund to support the victims of this tragedy," he said. "I abhor the sentiments Mr. Holt has expressed. These statements and sentiments are unacceptable. Period. End of sentence. Our campaign is about, and have always been about, uniting America, not dividing her."
The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign reported Monday that Holt also donated seven times to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, for a total of $3,500, from 2011 to 2014. A Walker spokesman said he would also be donating the money to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund.
In the manifesto - which appears to have been authored by Roof but has not been verified - the author writes that after being "awakened" by the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida, they conducted a Google search for "black on White crim" and came upon the Council of Conservative Citizens' website.
In a statement posted by Holt Sunday, he said this was "not surprising" because the organization is "perhaps three websites in the world that accurately and honestly report black-on-white violent crime, and in particular, the seemingly endless incidents involving black-on-white murder."
But, he goes on to say, "The CofCC is hardly responsible for the actions of this deranged individual merely because he gleaned accurate information from our website."