Republican Presidential Candidates Distance Themselves From Donations Linked to White Nationalist

Scrutiny follows the Charleston church shooting and reports about the accused gunman's inspirations.
Updated on

Republican presidential candidates Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum say they are donating or returning campaign contributions that are said to be from the leader of a group that inspired the accused Charleston church shooter. So will likely Republican candidate Scott Walker.

They were among Republicans to receive financial support from Earl Holt, a Texas man who leads the Council of Conservative Citizens, according to the Guardian and New York TimesThe Southern Poverty Law Center calls it a “white nationalist” group.

“A manifesto that appeared on a website registered to [the accused shooter] said that the manifesto’s author had first learned of 'brutal black-on-white murders' from the Council of Conservative Citizens’ website,” the Times said.

“RandPAC is donating the funds to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund to assist the victims' families,” said Doug Stafford, a spokesman for Paul, a Kentucky senator. Santorum will do the same, the former Pennsylvania senator said in an e-mailed statement.

“Senator Cruz believes that there is no place for racism in society,” said Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for the Texas senator, in an e-mail. “Upon learning about Mr. Holt's background and his contributions to the campaign, he immediately instructed that all of those donations be returned.”

Walker, who has not made his White House run official but has started fundraising for it, has received more than $3,000 from Holt since 2011, according to data maintained by the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. The contributions to Walker were first reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The governor plans to donate the money to charity, according to AshLee Strong, a political spokeswoman for Walker.

—David Weigel, Mark Niquette and John McCormick contributed to this report. 

(Updates with information on Scott Walker.)
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