Republican presidential candidates have vowed to return or redistribute campaign contributions from the leader of a conservative group that said Charleston, South Carolina church massacre suspect Dylann Roof had “legitimate grievances.”
In what’s been described as an online manifesto and believed to have been written by Roof before last week’s shooting rampage at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the 21-year-old purportedly cited the Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC) as an influence in developing his racist attitudes towards African-Americans.
Roof said he stumbled upon the CofCC website when he did an online search for “black on White crime.”
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CofCC president Earl P. Holt III acknowledged the reference in the purported manifesto, but condemned the massacre, saying the organization does not “advocate illegal activity.”
Holt said in a statement it was understandable that Roof would credit the St. Louis, Missouri-based organization because it “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.”
Holt would declined to comment when a reporter KETK NBC reporter knocked on the door of his Longview, Texas home on Monday.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SLPC) described the CofCC is “the modern incarnation of the old White Citizens Councils,” a group that fought against the desegregation of schools in the South during the 1950s and 1960s, and was founded by “longtime racist activist” Gordon Baum.
In its “Statement of Principles,” the CofCC said its members “commit themselves to, and pledge to work for these fundamental principles of American civilization, liberty, justice and safety.”
Those principles included believing the United States is a Christian country derived from “European people” and that the “massive immigration of non-European and non-Western peoples into the United States… threatens to transform our nation into a non-European majority.”
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The group opposes mixed-race relationships and efforts “to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage,” as well as attempts to “weaken the structure of the American family through the toleration of sexual licentiousness, homosexuality and other perversions.”
The Guardian noted a racist comment on the Conservative news website The Blaze posted, in 2014, was credited to “Earl P.Holt III.”
The comment read: “If you think you can educate them, or embarrass them, or reason with them, or that your Christian compassion will be reciprocated, then you are the kind of person who will be completely baffled when they kill you, rape your entire family, and burn your house to the ground.”
According to The Guardian, Holt has reportedly made US$65,000 in contributions to Republican campaigns, including a 2012 contribution of $8,500 to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, $1,750 to the political action committee (RandPAC) of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and $1,500 to former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. All three men are running for the Republican presidential nomination for the 2016 election.
A campaign spokesperson for Calgary-born Cruz, who renounced his dual Canadian citizenship in order to run for president, told The New York Times the contributions will be refunded “immediately.”
“We just learned this evening that Mr. Holt had contributed to the campaign,” the spokesperson said.
RandPAC spokesperson Sergio Gor said Holt’s campaign contributions would donate them “to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund to assist the victims’ families.”
Other donations Holt made to Republicans included 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Iowa Congressman Steve King, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and 2012 presidential hopeful and former Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann.
With files from The Associated Press