After first saying he would return contributions from a leader of a racist group, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, decided to donate contributions to the families of the victims of Charleston church shootings.
Cruz, a presidential candidate, made the initial decision after reports that Earl Holt III, the head of the Council of Conservative Citizens had contributed $8,500 to Cruz campaigns since 2012.
Dylann Roof, the alleged killer of nine African-Americans in Charleston, S.C. cited the group for teaching him about black on white crime in a manifesto he left on a website registered to him.
In an updated statement, the Cruz campaign said:
“Upon learning Mr. Holt’s background, Sen. Cruz made an immediate decision to return his contributions. However after reflection, he decided that the best use of that money would not be to return it but instead use it to help support the families of victims from the Charleston shooting, so a donation in the amount of $11,000 will be made to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund, established by Charleston Mayor Joe Riley. Senator Cruz's continued prayers are with those impacted by this horrific attack.”
Another GOP presidential candidate who had received contributions from Holt-former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum-was the first of several recipients of Holt’s contributions to announce he would donate the money to the victims’ fund.
Cruz called for a minute of silence before he spoke at the Faith & Freedom’s Road to Majority conference last week to honor the victims.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press published a controversial image of Cruz at a Saturday event at CrossRoads Shooting Sports in Johnston, Iowa.
The photo shows Cruz in profile with a gun apparently aimed at his forehead. The gun is actually on a poster on the wall but the image sparked outrage on social media.
The conservative media outlet Breitbart said, “But imagine the outcry were he a Democrat. How many think pieces about violent imagery and responsible reporting would we see?”
According to Politico, the AP responded by saying that the photographer had taken a series of pictures.
“The images were not intended to portray Sen. Cruz in a negative light,” said Paul Colford, AP’s vice president & director of media relations.
The Cruz campaign had no comment on the AP photo.