COEUR d'ALENE - U.S. Sen. Jim Risch will donate a $500 campaign contribution he received from the leader of a white separatist group reportedly cited in Charleston shooter Dylann Roof's manifesto.
Risch's office confirmed Monday that the Idaho Republican received the 2013 donation from Earl Holt, president of the Missouri-based Council of Conservative Citizens.
"Prior to my mentioning the name to him today, the senator had never heard of Earl Holt," said Risch's press secretary Susan Wrasse, in an email. "Sen. Risch has received donations from thousands of different individuals, PACs, and institutional donors over the past seven years. Since there are thousands of donors, it is inevitable that the list of donors contains some 'scoundrels.'"
Wrasse said given Holt's statements regarding race, it would be inappropriate for Risch to retain the contribution. The amount Holt contributed will be donated instead to a charitable fund.
Risch wasn't the only politician to receive donations from the group. According to the New York Times, at least four of the Republican presidential candidates for 2016 have received thousands of dollars from the group.
The Guardian reported Sunday that in recent years Holt has donated $65,000 to Republican campaigns.
On the website www.lastrhodesian.com, Roof allegedly wrote a manifesto explaining why he engaged in the mass murder.
In the second paragraph of the manifesto he writes: "The event that truly awakened me was the Trayvon Martin case. I kept hearing and seeing his name, and eventually I decided to look him up. I read the Wikipedia article and right away I was unable to understand what the big deal was. It was obvious that Zimmerman was in the right.
"But more importantly this prompted me to type in the words 'black on White crime' into Google, and I have never been the same since that day. The first website I came to was the Council of Conservative Citizens. There were pages upon pages of these brutal black on White murders. I was in disbelief. At this moment I realized that something was very wrong. How could the news be blowing up the Trayvon Martin case while hundreds of these black on White murders got ignored?"
In a statement published Monday on the Council for Conservative Citizens' website, a spokesman for the group condemned the killings, but also wrote that in his manifesto, Roof outlined "other grievances felt by many whites" that CofCC members feel are legitimate positions.
A statement from Holt was also published on the site.
"The CofCC is hardly responsible for the actions of this deranged individual merely because he gleaned accurate information from our website," Holt wrote.
The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the CofCC as "the modern reincarnation of the old White Citizens Councils, which were formed in the 1950s and 1960s to battle school desegregation in the South. The group states in its published principles, among other things, that members "oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind."