The leader of a white supremacist group that allegedly inspired Charleston shooting suspect Dylann Roof's radical racist views has donated thousands of dollars to major Republican campaigns for politicians, including presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Rick Santorum.
A racist manifesto that surfaced this weekend that is believed to have been written by Roof, and currently under FBI investigation, attributes his beliefs to the Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC) — whose 62-year-old president Earl Holt III has donated $65,000 towards various GOP campaigns over the last few years, a report from the Guardian revealed on Sunday.
As the information emerged, Cruz's presidential campaign told the Guardian it would give back the approximately $8,500 that Holt — a Texas resident — had donated.
"We just learned this evening that Mr. Holt had contributed to the campaign," a spokesman for the Texas Republican Senator's presidential campaign told the New York Times. "We will be immediately refunding all those donations."
Other Republican politicians Holt has donated to in recent years include Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, Ohio Senator Rob Portman, and former congressional representatives like Minnesota's Michele Bachmann and Missouri's Todd Akin.
In a statement sent to VICE News on Monday, a spokesman for Senator Flak said, "Sen. Flake is donating the $1000 contribution to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund." The city of Charleston established the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund in the wake of the shooting to offer help for victims' family members by providing direct financial support funeral and burial expenses.
Headquartered in Missouri, the CofCC is classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a White Nationalist organization and a "modern reincarnation" of White Citizens Councils — groups that stood against school desegregation in the 1950s and 1960s. The CofCC has previously referred to "mixing the races" as "rebelliousness against God."
Following the shooting in Charleston on Wednesday night, during which Roof allegedly opened fire at a bible study meeting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church killing nine people, Holt wrote in an online statement that it was not surprising the suspect learned about "black-on-white" violent crime from his group.
"The CofCC is one of perhaps three websites in the world that accurately and honestly report black-on-white violent crime," he wrote in the June 21 post. "And in particular, the seemingly endless incidents involving black-on-white murder."
Holt said that CofCC was "hardly responsible" for Roof's actions, adding that the group does not advocate for any illegal activities.
Jared Taylor, a spokesman for the CofCC, released a statement criticizing Roof's actions, but seemed to stand by his motivations.
"In his manifesto, Roof outlines other grievances felt by many whites. Again, we utterly condemn Roof's despicable killings, but they do not detract in the slightest from the legitimacy of some of the positions he has expressed. *Ignoring legitimate grievances is dangerous*," the statement reads.
The manifesto allegedly from Roof surfaced in the days after the shooting, posted online on a website reportedly created by and registered under to an administrator named Dylann Roof in February. Photos of the 21-year-old are also featured on the site, using the URL "lastrhodesian.com" — an apparent reference to Rhodesia, the Apartheid-era white supremacist regime in what is now Zimbabwe.
As Roof faces hate crime charges for the violent attack, this week will also see the start of funerals held for the victims, which include six women and three men ranging in ages from 26 to 87. The individual memorials follow Sunday's church service at Emanuel AME Church, where armed police looked through bags of those attending the service.