A Texan whose white supremacist writings apparently influenced the man accused in last week’s South Carolina church shooting has donated tens of thousands of dollars to GOP presidential candidates and to other top Republicans including Iowans U.S. Rep. Steve King and U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst.
Earl P. Holt III, 62, made five donations of $500 each, totaling $2,500, to King between Sept. 30, 2012, and Oct. 6, 2014, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. King, R-Kiron, has been representing northwestern Iowa in Congress since 2002.
Holt made one $1,000 donation to Ernst, R-Red Oak, on Sept. 27.
Holt is president of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a Missouri-based activist group cited in a manifesto believed to have been written by Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old accused of fatally shooting nine people last Wednesday during a prayer meeting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.
The manifesto said the author first learned of “brutal black-on-white murders” from Holt’s council, the New York Times reported.
In a weekend statement, Holt said he was not surprised his group helped inform Roof, but that it was “hardly responsible for the actions of this deranged individual.” The council advocates “whites’ rights,” opposes integration and so-called race-mixing and calls for the halt of immigration.
Monday afternoon, Ernst spokeswoman Brook Hougeson said the senator would be giving the contribution meant for her campaign to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund, established for families of the victims in the church shooting. King released a statement Monday night saying he would funnel the money to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund and the church.
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“Our prayers are with the families and friends of those affected by this tragedy,” King’s website states.
King, speaking to conservative commentator Steve Malzberg last week, called the shootings “sickening” and said the victims were “faithful worshippers of our Lord.” King said prescription medications, not guns, were to blame for the massacre.
Holt also gave to U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, and to former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, all 2016 GOP presidential candidates.
Those contributions, among more to other politicians, were reported first by Britian’s The Guardian newspaper.
Cruz’s staff told reporters he would return the contribution. Santorum said he — like Ernst — would donate it on behalf of the victims.
“Rather than put more money back in the pockets of such an individual, my 2012 campaign committee will be donating the amount of his past donations to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund to support the victims of this tragedy,” said Santorum, who received $1,500 from Holt in the 2012 election cycle.
Reuters contributed to this report.