Washington – A Texas white supremacist who influenced the suspect in the Charleston, South Carolina church shootings donated to the U.S. Senate campaigns in Louisiana of Republicans Bill Cassidy and Rob Maness in 2014, as well as to Republican presidential contenders who have said they will return or give to charity his contributions to their 2016 White House runs.
Earl Holt, of Longview, contributed $500 on June 10, 2014 and another $500 on Oct. 30, 2014 to the Senate campaign of Maness, a tea-party candidate who made his first run for elective office last year. Maness finished third in the Nov. 4 primary and was eliminated from the Dec. 6 runoff, in which Cassidy defeated incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu.
On Nov. 6, Holt gave $1,000 to Cassidy’s runoff campaign, according to Federal Election Commission records.
Neither Maness nor Cassidy responded immediately to requests for comment.
Police are holding Dylann Roof, 21, as a suspect in the shooting of nine black worshipers at a church in Charleston Wednesday night. Roof, who is white, reportedly indicated the attack was racially motivated, according to survivor accounts. He also operated a web site citing the influence on him of a web site run by the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white-supremacist group headed by Holt.
Holt has contributed thousands of dollars over the years to the political campaigns of a range of Republican candidates, from tea party icons such as former U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachmann, of Minnesota, to mainstream politicians such as Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate for president in 2012.
He has contributed to the current presidential campaigns of U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz, of Texas, and Rand Paul, of Kentucky, and of former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, of Pennsylvania. Upon learning of the contributions, Cruz said he would return the money and Paul said he would give it to a fund for the shooting victims’ families, the New York Times has reported.