Jon Swaine and Jessica Glenza, Guardian, June 22, 2015
Four presidential hopefuls were among 16 Republicans who on Monday gave up more than $30,000 in campaign contributions from the leader of a white nationalist group said to have influenced the Charleston church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum led a GOP group spanning Congress and statehouses who said they would donate to charity or return money from Earl Holt, following the publication of a Guardian article on Sunday.
Other Republicans who have taken money from Holt declined to comment about the contributions.
Holt, the president of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC), has contributed more than $74,000 to Republican candidates and committees in recent years, according to public filings, while making dozens of racist statements online.
His organisation, which is labelled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, was cited by the author of an extremist manifesto posted on a website registered in Roof’s name and hosting photographs of the 21-year-old.
Walker, the Wisconsin governor, will pass the $3,000 Holt gave his state campaigns to a charity, AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman, said in an email. Walker is expected to officially announce a campaign for president in the coming weeks.
His decision followed 2016 candidates Paul, a senator for Kentucky, Cruz, a senator for Texas, and Santorum, a former senator for Pennsylvania, passing a total of $14,250 they received from Holt to a memorial fund for Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina, where nine people were shot dead last week.
“I abhor the sentiments Mr Holt has expressed. These statements and sentiments are unacceptable. Period. End of sentence,” Santorum said in a statement.
The manifesto author, widely reported but not verified as Roof, recounted learning about “brutal black on white murders” from the CfCC website. “At this moment I realised that something was very wrong,” the manifesto said.
Roof has been charged with nine counts of murder. He is accused of joining a Bible study group at the church last Wednesday evening and opening fire, declaring that the attack was racially motivated before fleeing in his car.
Jared Taylor, a spokesman for the CoCC, said in a statement on Monday that its leaders “utterly condemn” Roof’s alleged killings, but said the shootings “do not detract in the slightest from the legitimacy of some of the positions he has expressed”.
Taylor said: “Ignoring legitimate grievances is dangerous.”
Another $6,500 in Holt campaign contributions are to be donated to the church fund from senators Joni Ernst of Iowa, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Rob Portman of Ohio and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, along with representatives Ryan Zinke of Montana, Louie Gohmert of Texas, and Mark Sanford of South Carolina.
Spokespeople for the Texas governor, Greg Abbott, and Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who received a combined $5,000 in campaign contributions from Holt, according to filings, said they would be giving the money to charity.
Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Representative Mia Love of Utah–the first black female Republican in Congress–said they would be returning a total of $2,500 in contributions to Holt. “I do not agree with his hateful beliefs and language and believe they are hurtful to our country,” Cotton said in a statement.
In a statement published on Sunday, Holt said it was “not surprising” that Roof was apparently informed by the group’s website as it reported race relations “accurately and honestly”.
However, he added: “The CofCC is hardly responsible for the actions of this deranged individual merely because he gleaned accurate information from our website.”
Current members of congress, state officials, or candidates who received campaign contributions from Earl Holt, president of Council of Conservative Citizens, according to FEC and state filings:
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas* – $8,500 – donating $11,000 to Charleston church fund
Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin – $3,500 – donating to charity
Governor Greg Abbott of Texas – $3,000 – donating to Salvation Army in Austin
Representative Steve King of Iowa – $2,500
Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska – $2,000 – donating to community centre
Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky* – $1,750 – donating to Charleston church fund
Former Senator Rick Santorum – $1,500 – donating to Charleston church fund
Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas – $1,500 – returning contributions
Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas* – $1,250 – donating to Charleston church fund
Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin – $1,250 – donating to Charleston church fund
Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa – $1,000 – donating to Charleston church fund
Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona – $1,000 – donating to Charleston church fund
Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina – $1,000 – donating to Charleston church fund
Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana – $1,000
Representative Mia Love of Utah – $1,000 – returning contributions
Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin* – $1,000
State representative David Simpson of Texas – $750
State senator Konni Burton of Texas – $750
Representative Thomas Emmer of Minnesota – $500
Representative Ryan Zinke of Montana – $500 – donating to Charleston church fund
Senator Dean Heller of Nevada – $500
Senator Jim Risch of Idaho – $500
Representative Kenneth Buck of Colorado – $500
Senator Rob Portman of Ohio – $250 – donating to Charleston church fund
Representative Mark Sanford of South Carolina – $250
State representative Matthew Schaefer of Texas – $250
Texas supreme court judge Jeff Brown – $250
Former candidates and members of congress who received campaign contributions from Holt
Todd Akin, US senate candidate in Missouri – $3,500
Michele Bachmann, US representative for Minnesota and US presidential primary candidate – $3,200
Richard Mourdock, US senate candidate in Indiana – $2,500
Mitt Romney, US presidential candidate – $2,000
Chris McDaniel, US senate primary candidate in Mississippi – $2,000
Charles Djou, US house candidate in Hawaii – $2,000
Josh Mandel, US senate candidate in Ohio – $1,500
Linda McMahon, US senate candidate in Connecticut – $1,500
Allen West*, US representative for Florida – $1,250
Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia governor candidate – $1,000
George Allen, US senate candidate in Virginia – $1,000
Rick Berg, US representative and US senate candidate for North Dakota – $1,000
Dennis Rehberg, US representative and US senate candidate for Montana – $1,000
Mark Neumann, US senate candidate in Wisconsin – $1,000
Sharron Angle, US senate candidate in Nevada – $1,000
Paul Broun, US representative and US senate primary candidate for Georgia – $1,000
Rob Maness, US senate primary candidate in Louisiana – $1,000
Quico Canseco, US representative and US house primary candidate for Texas – $750
Peter Hoekstra, US representative and US senate candidate for Michigan – $500
Tom Smith, US senate candidate in Pennsylvania – $500
Dan Liljenquist, state senator and US senate primary candidate in Utah – $500
JD Hayworth, US representative and US senate primary candidate for Arizona – $500
Dino Rossi, state senator and US senate candidate in Washington – $500
Philip Eby, state house primary candidate in Texas – $500
Jeff Bell, US senate candidate in New Jersey – $500
Donald Webb, US house candidate in North Carolina – $500
Joe Miller, US senate primary candidate in Alaska – $500
Jim Oberweis, state senator and US senate candidate in Illinois – $500
Steve Lonegan, US senate candidate in New Jersey – $500
John Raese, US senate candidate in West Virginia – $500
Conservative campaign committees that received contributions from Holt
Senate Conservatives Fund PAC – $1,000
Actright PAC – $1,000
TeaPartyExpress.org PAC – $800
Madison Project PAC – $250
*Total includes contributions to candidate’s leadership Pac