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Leader of group cited in Roof ‘manifesto’ donated to top Republicans — including Cruz, Paul and Santorum

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The leader of a rightwing group that Dylann Roof allegedly credits with helping to radicalise him against black people before the Charleston church massacre has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Republicans such as presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Rick Santorum.

Earl Holt has given $65,000 to Republican campaign funds in recent years while inflammatory remarks – including that black people were “the laziest, stupidest and most criminally-inclined race in the history of the world” – were posted online in his name.

After being approached by the Guardian on Sunday, Cruz’s presidential campaign said it would be returning all money the senator had received from Holt.

Holt, 62, is the president of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC), a Missouri-based activist organisation praised as enlightening by the author of a manifesto-style text that was posted on a website registered in Roof’s name along with photographs of the gunman. The FBI said on Saturday it was investigating the website.

The manifesto’s author, who has been widely reported but not verified as Roof, recounted learning about “brutal black on white murders” from the CofCC website .

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“At this moment I realised that something was very wrong,” the manifesto said.

Roof, 21, is charged with the murders of nine black people at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, last Wednesday. He is accused of joining a bible study group before opening fire and fleeing.

In a statement published on Sunday , Holt said it was “not surprising” that Roof was apparently informed by the group’s website as it was unusual in reporting race relations “accurately and honestly”. However, he added: “The CofCC is hardly responsible for the actions of this deranged individual merely because he gleaned accurate information from our website.”

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Reached by telephone at home on Sunday evening by the Guardian, Holt said he was busy and hung up.

Holt has since 2012 contributed $8,500 to Cruz, the Texas senator running for the Republican presidential nomination, and his Jobs, Growth and Freedom Fund political action committee, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings. On some filings Holt’s occupation was listed as “slumlord”.

He has also given $1,750 to RandPAC , the political action committee of Paul, the Kentucky senator and presidential contender, and he gave $2,000 to the 2012 presidential campaign of Mitt Romney.

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A further $1,500 was donated by Holt to Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator and 2012 Republican presidential primary runner-up, who is running for president again in the 2016 race and attended Sunday’s memorial service at Emanuel AME Church.

In response to questions from the Guardian, Rick Tyler, a spokesman for Cruz, said in an email: “Upon review, we discovered that Mr Holt did make a contribution. We will be immediately refunding the donation.”

Tyler said Cruz’s own campaign and leadership PAC would “be making a full refund”.

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Matthew Beynon, a spokesman for Santorum, said in an email: “Senator Santorum does not condone or respect racist or hateful comments of any kind. Period. The views the Senator campaigns on are his own and he is focused on uniting America, not dividing her.”

A spokesman for Paul’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

A series of racist statements have been posted over the past four years to the website of The Blaze, a conservative news outlet, by a user going by Holt’s full name, Earl P Holt III. The user referred to Longview, Texas – which is where Holt lives – as his hometown. A commenter using the same screen name on various other news websites has identified himself as a member of the CofCC .

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Jared Taylor, a close associate of Holt and former director of the CofCC, who said Holt had asked him to handle media inquiries relating to the massacre, said in an interview: “If there’s a statement that is ‘Earl P Holt III’, he probably made it.”

Related: The Charleston shooting victims: a poet, a politician, a librarian, women of faith

Several of the comments referred to black people as “Africanus Criminalis”, a faux-Latin label also used in an online message for which Holt reportedly apologised in 2004 . Holt, then a radio host in Missouri, referred to black people as “niggers” five times in the message.

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In June 2012 the poster “Earl P Holt III” stated that he had bought and become proficient in “a great many weapons” to ensure that being white did not “get me murdered” by non-white people. Two months earlier the same user responded to an article about the New Black Panther Party with a request for advice on buying ammunition “Does anyone know where I can get 180 grain .308 NATO rounds with a polymer tip?,” he wrote.

Under a February 2014 article, the same user warned other readers that black activists would “kill you, rape your entire family, and burn your house to the ground” . According to an account of a report by a witness, Roof complained to his victims in Charleston last week: “You rape our women.”

One comment said of black people: “One can extricate them from the jungle, but one CANNOT purge the jungle from THEM” , while another said: “I do wish they’d keep their violence and savagery within their own communities” .

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The commenter using Holt’s name also complained under a story about white privilege about his taxes being distributed “to every baby-daddy, baby-momma, welfare cheat, drug-dealer, Oprah-watcher, felon, alcoholic, drug-addict and deadbeat in America.”

Holt has also distributed tens of thousands in campaign contributions among prominent Republicans in congress, such as Representative Steve King of Iowa ($2,000), Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas ($1,500) and Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona ($1,000). He also gave $3,200 to the former Minnesota congresswoman and presidential candidate Michele Bachmann.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2015


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