The Troubling Man Who's Given Tens of Thousands to Presidential Candidates

June 22nd 2015

Alex Mierjeski

Three Republican presidential candidates and a number of current and former members of Congress received tens of thousands of dollars from the leader of an alleged white supremacist organization at least partly accredited with radicalizing Dylann Roof, the suspect in last week's church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina that killed nine people, according to news reports and campaign finance records.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to Call for Removal of Confederate Flag

The campaigns of Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Rick Santorum all worked quickly to distance themselves from the $65,000 reportedly given to Republican candidates in recent years by Earl Holt III, the president of the Council of Conservative Citizens, which the Southern Poverty Law Center deems a white nationalist organization. CofCC was also mentioned in the opening paragraph of Roof's online manifesto, reports of which surfaced over the weekend.

Since 2012, according to the Guardian, which relied on Federal Election Commission filings to first report the donations, Hold has given $8,500 to Cruz and to his Jobs, Growth and Freedom Fund political action committee; $1,750 to Rand Paul's RandPAC; $2,000 to Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign; and $1,500 to Rick Santorum. Holt listed his occupation as either "self employed" or "slumlord" on his FEC filings, the paper reported.

"It has been brought to the attention of the [CofCC] that Dylann Roof ... credits the CofCC website for his knowledge of black-on-white violent crime," Holt wrote in a statement on Sunday. "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," he wrote, adding that his organization neither condones nor should be held responsible for Roof's "deranged" actions.

Holt has also given to current and former Republican Congress members including Sens. Jeff Flake (Az.), Rob Portman (Ohio), and Tom Cotton (Ark.), Rep. Steve King (Iowa), and former Reps. Michele Bachmann (Mn.), and Todd Akin (Mo.), according to reports.

As of Monday, spokespeople for Cruz, Paul, and Santorum acknowledged the donations, but said that on discovery of who Holt was, the money would be refunded. Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler told the Guardian that "[w]e will be immediately refunding the donation," and adding that Cruz's PAC would "be making a full refund."

"RandPAC is donating the funds to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund to assist the victims' families," Paul's chief strategist told the paper. A Santorum spokesman said that the Senator "does not condone or respect racist of 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."

Holt has been traced to a number of brash, racist comments on internet comment boards condemning black people as criminal-prone, lower-class race of people who leech tax subsidies. "One can extricate them from the jungle, but one CANNOT pure the jungle from THEM," read one comment. "I do wish they'd keep their violence and savagery within their own communities," said another. The same screen name––Holt's full name, "Earl P Holt III"––was also used to ask about buying specific types of ammunition to protect himself from being the victim of a black-on-white murder, the presence of which is skewed and vastly underreported by the media, according to Holt. "Does anyone know where I can get 180 grain .308 NATO rounds with a polymer tip?," he asked.

While Holt has condemned Roof's shootings last week, which killed nine people in a historically black church in Charleston, his organization maintains that the information Roof appeared to have read on CofCC's website regarding black-on-white crime is correct. "[CofCC] stands unshakably behind the facts on its website, and points out the dangers of denying the extent of black-on-white crime," reads a statement released by the CofCC.

According to Roof's so-called manifesto, it was CofCC's website that spurred him to Google "black on White crime," which he claims was a turning point. "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 manifesto says. It continues on with what appear to be Roof's thoughts on Blacks, Hispanics, Jews, East Asians, patriotism, and finally, an explanation.

"I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ration of black to Whites in the country," it reads. "We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me."

Roof was arrested last week, and has been charged with nine counts of murder, and the possession of a firearm in the commission of a deadly crime.