GOP candidates are now returning their campaign contributions from a white supremacist group

Rand PaulAPSen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky).

A pair of GOP presidential campaigns are now rejecting contributions they received from the leader of a white supremacist group that the lead suspect in last week’s South Carolina church shooting apparently cited in an online manifesto.

The campaigns of Sens. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said Monday that they will forfeit thousands of dollars given to them by Earl Holt III, the president of Council of Conservative Citizens.

The group was cited in an online manifesto seemingly written by Dylann Roof, who is accused of killing nine people last Wednesday in a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina. The Guardian reported Sunday night that Holt gave $US8,500 to back Cruz and $US1,750 on behalf of Paul.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, an authority on hate groups, has long documented the Council of Conservative Citizens’ advocacy of a “racist agenda.”

“The Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) is the modern reincarnation of the old White Citizens Councils, which were formed in the 1950s and 1960s to battle school desegregation in the South,” the law center’s website says. “Among other things, its Statement of Principles says that it ‘oppose[s] all efforts to mix the races of mankind.'”

Paul’s campaign told Bloomberg on Monday that it would give Holt’s money to a charity fund for the victims of the Charleston shooting.

“RandPAC is donating the funds to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund to assist the victims’ families,” Paul strategist Doug Stafford said.

Meanwhile, a Cruz spokesman told The New York Times that the campaign “just learned” about Holt’s contributions and that it will refund them.

“We just learned this evening that Mr. Holt had contributed to the campaign,” the spokesman said. “We will be immediately refunding all those donations.”

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