It has been widely reported that Dylann Roof, the young man who killed nine people in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, was influenced by a white supremacist group known as the Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC/CCC). Roof cited the group in his racist manifesto. The council is now reportedly “under fire for allegedly inspiring racial hatred in Roof, a 21-year-old high school dropout.”
According to Miranda Blue of Right Wing Watch, the CofCC released a statement which condemned the murders but defended Roof’s “legitimate grievances” against African Americans. Blue noted that Earl Holt, president of the group, “released his own statement saying that the shooter had merely ‘gleaned accurate information’ from the group’s website about ‘the seemingly endless incidents involving black-on-white murder.’”
But it turns out that the statement that Holt distributed wasn’t all he had to say. In an interview Saturday with the Political Cesspool, a white supremacist radio program hosted by CCC board member James Edwards, Holt read an early draft of the statement, which he said he was waiting for his webmaster to post online.
Blue noted that the statement that Holt read on the Political Cesspool “was virtually identical to the one that CCC ultimately distributed to the media”–with the exception of the following two paragraphs “attacking the media for being ‘perverts, liars and Marxists,’ which for some reason seem to have been removed before the statement was distributed to press”:
The C of CC is hardly responsible for the actions of this deranged individual merely because he gleaned accurate information from our website … For the corrupt leftist media and its minions to suggest otherwise is why they are almost universally viewed as dishonest, biased, and irredeemably contemptable.
The C of CC does not advocate illegal activities of any kind, and never has. In fact, the CofCC has always scrupulously observed the law even when our leftist enemies have demonstrably and flagrantly violated it. I would gladly compare the honesty, integrity and law-abiding nature of our membership to that of any group, particularly the perverts, liars and Marxists who comprise the corrupt leftist media.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the CofCC is now the nation’s largest white nationalist group and at its peak boasted 15,000 members. Graham said that while the CofCC “is sometimes described as a group of ‘thinly veiled’ white supremacists or the like, that’s misleading—it makes little secret of its agenda.”
Council of Conservative Citizens Has Attracted “High Profile” Politicians
David A. Graham (The Atlantic) said that despite the fact that the CoCC openly espouses white supremacy, “the group continues to attract high-profile politicians. Then-Representative Bob Barr of Georgia, a Republican…delivered a keynote address to the group in 1998. Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, who was forced to resign the Senator Majority Leadership after praising Senator Strom Thurmond’s segregationist ‘Dixiecrat’ presidential bid of 1948 at a 100th birthday party for Thurmond, was also linked to the group.” Graham added that Lott “once addressed this group’s national board, welcomed its leaders to Washington, had photos taken with them in his office and then said he didn’t know what they were about.”
Graham reported that members of the white nationalist group “have donated thousands of dollars to politicians.” He also noted that some national politicians have joined CofCC–and that dozens of them “have spoken to CCC meetings, often regretting it later.”
Graham posited the question: “Why do politicians keep speaking to the CCC?” He said the “outwardly neutral name might have something to do with it. Every time a politician is caught, he—like Lott—insists he didn’t know what the group’s stances were.”
The fact is that politicians are eager to raise money and often don’t carefully vet groups before speaking to them. And CCC members have spread their money around. As The Guardian first reported over the weekend, CCC President Earl Holt III has donated some $65,000 to candidates in recent years, including GOP presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Rick Santorum…Holt’s contribution records read as a who’s who of conservative candidates in recent years—including Mark Sanford, who represents Charleston in the House. Holt has given to black candidates, including Representative Mia Love of Utah and former Representative Allen West of Florida. Bizarrely, in some of his donations, Holt identifies himself as a self-employed “slumlord”; others call him a real-estate developer or landlord. Commenter accounts around the web using his full name are repositories of racism and slurs.
Once news that Roof had been inspired by the CofCC had made headlines, Republican politicians “around the country hastened to give back cash they’d received from the CCC’s president, Earl Holt III.”
Council of Conservative Citizens Listed by IRS As A Nonprofit Organization That Promotes Social Welfare
Now comes news this week from David Heath of the Center for Public Integrity that the CofCC is being “subsidized” by US taxpayers. Heath said that the white supremacist group “is listed by the Internal Revenue Service as a nonprofit organization that promotes social welfare, also known as a 501(c)(4).” He added, “Such groups pay no federal taxes, a form of government subsidy.”
Tax-exempt social welfare groups are supposed to “primarily promote the common good and general welfare of the people of the community as a whole,” according to IRS documents.
The Council of Conservative Citizens explains on its website that its members believe “that the American people and government should remain European in their composition and character…. We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind.”
Groups that espouse hate can be stripped of their tax-exempt status, said Marcus Owens, who ran the IRS’s exempt organizations division in the 1990s. That happened to the neo-Nazi group National Alliance in 1982. The Council of Conservative Citizens has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “notorious, racist hate group.”
According to Heath, Owens said that “Republicans in Congress have made it virtually impossible for the IRS to revoke the tax-exempt status of political groups after the recent, so-called tea party scandal.” Republicans were critical of the IRS “for what they said was inexcusable targeting of conservative 501(c)(4)s.”
Heath said that the CofCC has had tax exempt status since 1985. The group reported revenues of $67,000 in its most recent tax filing in 2013. Owen said that such “small amounts of money involved may also deter the IRS from taking action.”
Graham noted that the CofCC “has survived multiple turns in the media spotlight, and as revolting as its ideology is, it’s perhaps not surprising that it can continue to find adherents.” He said, “The question is whether politicians will be wise enough not to affiliate themselves with it once again.”
I guess whether or not politicians will be wise enough not to affiliate themselves with the CofCC in the future remains to be seen.
The White-Supremacist Group That Inspired a Racist Manifesto: How did the Council of Conservative Citizens become America’s biggest white-nationalist organization, and why do politicians keep dealing with it? (The Atlantic)