Republican presidential candidates were hesitant to say last week’s shooting in Charleston was about racism, and over the weekend many could not give a decisive answer on whether South Carolina should stop flying the Confederate flag on the capitol grounds. Now several GOP candidates are facing even tougher questions about their campaign’s ties to a white-supremacist group cited in alleged shooter Dylann Roof’s manifesto. The Guardian reported on Sunday that Earl Holt III, the leader of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC), has donated $65,000 to Republican candidates in recent years, including Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Rick Santorum.
Roof mentioned the Missouri-based group once on his website, saying it’s the first one he stumbled on in his journey toward embracing his deranged, racist worldview:
The event that truly awakened me was the Trayvon Martin case. I kept hearing and seeing his name, and eventually I decided to look him up. I read the Wikipedia article and right away I was unable to understand what the big deal was. It was obvious that Zimmerman was in the right. But more importantly this prompted me to type in the words “black on White crime” into Google, and I have never been the same since that day. The first website I came to was the Council of Conservative Citizens. There were pages upon pages of these brutal black on White murders. I was in disbelief. At this moment I realized that something was very wrong. How could the news be blowing up the Trayvon Martin case while hundreds of these black on White murders got ignored?
The Guardian highlighted many racist comments left by the user “Earl P Holt III” on the conservative site the Blaze. The user claims he’s learned to use “a great many weapons” to ensure that being white doesn’t “get me murdered” by minorities and calls black people “the laziest, stupidest and most criminally-inclined race in the history of the world.” He also warns that black activists would “kill you, rape your entire family, and burn your house to the ground,” which sounds similar to Roof’s reported remark to his victims, “You rape our women.”
A spokesman for Holt said the online comments were likely made by him, and in a statement posted on Saturday, Holt said the CofCC merely gave Roof “accurate” information and does not condone his actions:
It has been brought to the attention of the Council of Conservative Citizens that Dylann Roof–the alleged perpetrator of mass murder in Charleston this week–credits the CofCC website for his knowledge of black-on-white violent crime.
This is not surprising: The CofCC is one of 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.
The CofCC website exists because media either “spike” such stories, or intentionally obscure the race of black offenders. Indeed, at its national convention some years ago, the Society of Professional Journalists adopted this tactic as a formal policy.
The CofCC is hardly responsible for the actions of this deranged individual merely because he gleaned accurate information from our website.
We are no more responsible for the actions of this sad young man, than the Olin Corporation was for manufacturing the ammo misused by Colin Ferguson to murder six whites on the Long Island Railroad in 1993.
The CofCC does not advocate illegal activities of any kind, and never has. I would gladly compare the honesty and law-abiding nature of our membership against that of any other group.
FEC filings reveal that, since 2012, Holt has contributed $8,500 to one of Senator Ted Cruz’s political action committees, $1,750 to Senator Rand Paul’s RandPAC, and $1,500 to former senator Rick Santorum. According to the New York Times, he’s also donated money to Senator Jeff Flake, Senator Rob Portman, Representative Steve King, former representative Michele Bachmann, former representative Todd Akin, and Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign fund.
When contacted by The Guardian, Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler said, “Upon review, we discovered that Mr. Holt did make a contribution. We will be immediately refunding the donation.”
Santorum spokesman Matthew Beynon disavowed Holt’s comments, but didn’t say anything about returning the money. “Senator Santorum does not condone or respect racist or hateful comments of any kind. Period. The views the Senator campaigns on are his own and he is focused on uniting America, not dividing her,” Beynon said. Paul has yet to respond to questions about the donations.