The leader of a white supremacist group that apparently influenced Dylann Roof, the suspect in the killing of nine African-Americans in a Charleston, S.C., church last week, has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Republican campaigns, including those of 2016 presidential contenders such as Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum and Rand Paul, records show.
Mr. Cruz, a Texas senator, said Sunday night that he would be returning about $8,500 in donations that he had received from the Texas donor, Earl Holt III, who lists himself as president of the Council of Conservative Citizens.
“We just learned this evening that Mr. Holt had contributed to the campaign,” a spokesman for the Cruz campaign said in an email to The New York Times. “We will be immediately refunding all those donations.”
Mr. Paul’s campaign said Monday that it planned to send $2,250 received from Mr. Holt to a victims’ fund set up in the wake of the shooting.
“RandPAC is donating the funds to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund to assist the victims families,” said Sergio Gor, a spokesman for the campaign. Mr. Holt made four separate donations to the Paul campaign last year, records show. The campaign could not confirm the total received but said that all the money it identified from the white supremacist leader would be donated to the fund.
A manifesto that appeared on a website registered to Mr. Roof said that the manifesto’s author had first learned of “brutal black-on-white murders” from the Council of Conservative Citizens’ website.
Mr. Holt, in a statement posted online in his name, said he was not surprised to learn that Mr. Roof had found out about “black-on-white violent crime” from his group because, he said, it was one of the few that had the courage to disclose “the seemingly endless incidents involving black-on-white murder.” But he said his group does not advocate violence and should not be held responsible for the shootings.
The group is regarded by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a leading authority on hate crimes, as a white supremacist extremist organization that opposes “race mixing” as a religious affront and that vilifies blacks as an inferior race.
Spokesmen for Mr. Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, and Mr. Paul, a senator from Kentucky, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the donations.
Mr. Holt, who identified himself in some donation records as a Texas “slumlord,” has also given money to a number of other current and former Republican members of Congress, including Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, former Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Representative Steve King of Iowa, and former Representative Todd Akin of Missouri.
Source: The New York Times