Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas says he is returning a contribution from the head of a white supremacist group linked to last week’s shooting at a church in South Carolina.
Cotton’s office said Monday it is initiating a refund of the $1,500 donation from Earl Holt, who The Guardian newspaper reported gave about $65,000 to several Republicans in recent years. Holt is the president of the Council of Conservative Citizens and was cited as an inspiration to Dylann Roof.
In a statement, Cotton said he does not agree with Holt’s “hateful beliefs and language” which he said “are hurtful to our country.”
Holt has donated campaign funds to various prominent conservatives in recent years, including Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Rick Santorum.
Keegan Hankes with the Southern Poverty Law Center said Holt and his group have longstanding ties to prominent conservatives.
“He is very public about his statements. He has long history on the internet of spouting falsehoods about minority populations in this country. He has a long history of leadership in white nationalist hate group,” said Hankes.
Last week gunman Dylann Roof opened fire on the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church congregation in Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine people.