Republicans return donations from white supremacist
Republican presidential candidates, GOP lawmakers and the lone black Republican in the House are returning donations from the leader of a white supremacist group cited by Charleston church murder suspect Dylann Roof of giving the money to charity.
Represenative Mia Love of Utah, an African-American Republican woman who was elected to the House last year, said through a spokesman that she had returned US$1,000 in donations from Earl Holt, leader of the Council of Conservative Citizens.
The campaigns of Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky, and Rick Santorum said they would donate the money received from Holt to a fund set up by Charleston's mayor to assist the victims' families.
"I abhor the sentiments Mr Holt has expressed," Santorum said in a statement. "These statements and sentiments are unacceptable. Period. End of sentence."
Holt has contributed more than US$60,000 to Republicans since 2010, including several White House hopefuls, Federal Election Commission records show.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who is expected to announce his presidential candidacy next month, has received US$3,500 in donations from Holt since 2011. Walker will donate the money to charity, said his spokeswoman, AshLee Strong, in an email.
She did not say what charity Walker would donate it to.
influenced by website
An online manifesto purportedly written by Roof, the suspect in last week's murder of nine blacks at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, said he learned about "brutal black-on-white murders" from the Council of Conservative Citizens website.
Another presidential hopeful, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, said he will return the US$8,500 he received from Holt.
In a statement posted online Sunday, Holt said that it "was not surprising" that Roof credited his group with his knowledge of black-on-white crime. But he added that the Council of Conservative Citizens is "hardly responsible for the actions of this deranged individual merely because he gleaned accurate information from our website", and said that the group does not condone illegal activities.
Holt also donated to Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign, and to several current and former GOP members of Congress, including Iowa Representative Steve King, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, Iowa Senator Joni Ernst and former Minnesota congresswoman and presidential candidate Michele Bachmann.
In a statement Monday, Cotton said he had taken the initial steps to refund Holt's contribution.
"I do not agree with his hateful beliefs and language and believe they are hurtful to our country," Cotton said.
Flake's press secretary said yesterday the senator is donating his US$1,000 to the fund set up in Charleston to help the shooting victims' families. Ernst's office said she would do the same with her US$1,000 contribution from Holt.
The Guardian newspaper first reported the donations.