White Supremacist Who Inspired Church Shooter Donated To GOP Candidates

Dylann Storm Roof did not kill nine black people in a Charleston church in a vacuum. He was inspired by a number of other white supremacists–including the Council of Conservative Citizens and its leader, Eric Holt, which believes that black people are genetically inferior.

The Council of Conservative Citizens, by the by, is a white supremacist organization born from the ashes of the notorious White Citizens Councils of the Jim Crow Era, and is listed as an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. After segregation became a lost cause, they reassembled themselves into this group and continued their political activism. They were the focus of a scandal in 1998 after it was revealed that Bob Barr (R-GA) gave the keynote address at their national convention, and that Trent Lott (R-MI) had spoken to the group on several occasions.

Anyway, as it turns out, they are still pretty active, and that Eric Holt himself donated to several major GOP politicians–several of whom have since returned his money and at least one who has not. Which is it? That would be Santorum, of course.

Via ThinkProgress:

Aides to Texas Senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz say they “will be immediately refunding” the $8,500 Holt has donated to his campaign and PAC, the Jobs, Growth and Freedom Fund.

Kentucky Senator and presidential candidate Rand Paul’s spokesman says they will be donating the $1,750 they received from Holt to a fund for the victims of the Charleston church attack.

Yet Rick Santorum, another presidential candidate who received donations from Holt, responded only that he “does not condone or respect racist or hateful comments of any kind,” and while he did not say whether he would return the money, he added that he is “focused on uniting America, not dividing her.”

Holt also gave generously to congressional campaigns, backing Rep. Steve King (R-IA), Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), and other lawmakers who oppose immigration reform and the social safety net.

In a tweet posted Monday, Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton said he too would return the $1,500 he received from Holt, adding that he does “not agree with his hateful beliefs and language and believe they are hurtful to our country.”

It’s nice that most of them returned their money, and good on Rand Paul for donating it to a fund for the victims. Although, you know, he’s got his own weird history with regards to race issues, so I’m not ready to throw a parade just yet. I’m a little surprised that he donated to Ted Cruz, who is, you know, not a white person, but from what I can tell from Roof’s manifesto, some of them are OK with certain Hispanic people now? I don’t know, it’s hard to keep track of crazy.

Now, I’m not saying that one should be judged exclusively by the company they keep, but there is a reason why organizations like the CofCC donate to these politicians, and not, let’s say, Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. I mean, really–if white nationalists are not repulsed by you, you’re almost definitely doing something wrong.

[ThinkProgress]