Rooted in America’s recent political history, the phrase “follow the money” is now being applied in the dissection of events that sparked last week’s mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina. As previously reported by Inquistr, the online manifesto of alleged shooter Dylann Roof indicates he was inspired to carry out the aforementioned crime after reading online material from a white supremacist organization called Council of Conservative Citizens. According to the Guardian, that same organization has contributed thousands of dollars to The campaigns of a number of Republican candidates.
The Guardian‘s report indicates that Council of Conservative Citizens head Earl Holt III has donated a total of $65,000 to Republican campaigns over the course of “recent years,” including the campaigns of GOP presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz ($8,500), Rand Paul ($1,750), and Rick Santorum ($1,500).
“We just learned this evening that Mr. Holt had contributed to the campaign,” a spokesman for the Cruz campaign said in an email to The New York Times. “We will be immediately refunding all those donations.”
The political action committee affiliated with Rand Paul that received Holt’s donations has pledged to donate the funds to a charity established to aid victims of the South Carolina shooting. The New York Times reached out to Rick Santorum for comment but did not receive a response.
In a statement posted online, Earl Holt III — who reportedly listed his occupation as “slumlord” in some of his donation papers — defended his organization’s positions and prior statements and said that shooter Dylann Roof had “legitimate grievances.” By and through his organization, Holt stopped short of endorsing the murders, stating that the Council of Conservative Citizens “does not advocate illegal activities of any kind, and never has.”
It is difficult to know whether a loose affiliation with the persona and politics of a notorious hate group will ultimately tarnish the images and aspirations of any of the politicians who received such tainted donations. Nevertheless, it’s a safe that bet scores of Republican politicians will be combing through their donation records in the days and weeks ahead to cull any similar contributions from their ranks. In addition to the above-noted presidential candidates, The New York Times notes that several high-profile current and former members of congress also received money from Earl Holt III, including Ohio Senator Rob Portman and Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann.
The South Carolina shooting and its aftermath have again brought concerns over right-wing terrorism and questions of white privilege to the forefront of American discourse.
Indeed, the apparent fact that a white supremacist organization explicitly supports key mainstream politicians and their platforms is yet another regrettable dimension in the country’s long history of racial discord. But it’s precisely these kind of revelations which — with subsequent discussion, action, and continued reevaluation — might finally resolve some of the country’s most profound conflicts and antagonisms.
[Photo by Grace Beahm-Pool/Getty Images]