White supremacist leader Earl Holt III gave more than $80,000 in campaign money in recent years to more than 40 members of Congress and candidates for federal office – all Republicans – ironically including the party’s first black congresswoman.
Holt heads the Council for Conservative Citizens, the group whose internet postings may have inspired Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old accused of killing nine African-Americans in a Charleston, S.C., church.
The politicians, including GOP presidential candidates Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, as well as 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, sought quickly to put distance between themselves and the avowed racist. Several of the recipients said they would donate Holt’s donations to the church or the victims’ families.
Cruz, apparently the biggest recipient, said he would give $8,500 from Holt to survivors of those slain. Paul said he would also send $2,250 to a church fund for those families.
It wasn’t clear whether Holt was aware that Mia Love is African-American when he donated three times to her Utah congressional campaigns from 2012 until last year. Love narrowly won a House seat last November.
The next largest recipient of Holt’s donations was former Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri, who got $4,500. Akin’s political fortunes flagged shortly after he won the Republican senatorial nomination in 2012 and suggested that women who were victims of “legitimate rape” were less likely to get pregnant.
Holt also contributed at least $3,200 to former Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann, who ran for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012.
Former Virginia Sen. George Allen got $1,000 from Holt in 2011 and 2012 as he considered whether to try to win back his seat from Democratic Sen. Jim Webb. During a campaign stop in 2006, Allen turned to a dark-skinned Democratic tracker who was videotaping his appearance and called him a “macaca.”
Other recipients included Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin ($1,250) and freshman Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina ($1,000), Tom Cotton of Arkansas ($1,500) and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana ($1,000).
Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas said he would give the Charleston church double the $1,250 his committees got from Holt.
“As I told 5,000 or so members at my local church, where I preached Sunday, the attack in Charleston was an act of pure evil perpetrated against our own brothers and sisters,” he said in a statement. “It was even more sinister since it came during a prayer meeting in which our fellow Christians would have been praying for evil actors like the shooter.”
Holt gave $2,000 to Chris McDaniel, a Mississippi state senator who narrowly lost a primary election last fall in his bid to unseat six-term Republican Sen. Thad Cochran.
Cochran got a late boost when Democratic-leaning African-American voters crossed over to cast primary votes for the veteran senator, whose seniority helps deliver federal dollars to the state, one of the nation’s poorest.