Cruz, Paul returning donations from leader of group linked to Charleston suspect
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Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzMcConnell faces GOP pushback on debt deal Democrats seek to avoid internal disputes over Russia and China GOP senators introduce bill targeting Palestinian 'martyr payments' MORE (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) will give away donations from a Texas donor who leads a white supremacist group linked to the man suspected of killing nine people in a historically black church in Charleston, S.C., last week.

Cruz’s presidential campaign told The New York Times it had only recently learned that Earl Holt III, the president of the Council of Conservative Citizens, gave $8,500 to his campaign.


A spokesman told the Times the campaign will return the money to Holt.

Holt also donated $2,250 to Paul's leadership political action committee, RANDPAC.

Doug Stafford, a spokesman for the Kentucky Republican, told The Hill he'll donate the funds to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund "to assist the victims' families." The fund, named after the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, where the shooting took place.

Holt has also donated to a third Republican presidential candidate, former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.). The Times also reported Holt gave to GOP Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Rob Portman (Ohio), Rep. Steve King (Iowa), and former Reps. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) and Todd Akin (Mo.).

Flake's spokesman told The Hill that the senator will donate the $1,000 contribution to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund as well.

Dylann Roof, the suspect arrested in the shootings, allegedly posted a manifesto online before the shooting spree, where he credits the Council of Conservative Citizens with first showing him about "brutal black on White murders."

In numerous statements released on its website after the shooting, the group condemns the killings. But in one in which spokesman Jared Taylor talks about "the council's position and how they relate to Dylann Roof," it warns that the killings "do not detract in the slightest from the legitimacy of some of the positions he has expressed."

— This story was updated at 12:44 p.m.