On August 21, 2010 the Friends of Sharron Angle received a $500.00 donation from one Earl Holt, Longview, Texas. There was another donation from the same source on October 12, 2010, also for $500.00. However, pouring money into Mrs. Angle’s failed campaign wasn’t Earl Holt’s only interest in Nevada. On September 30, 2012 the Heller for Senate received $500.00 from the generous Mr. Holt. [LVSun]
Mr. Holt and his organization have come under scrutiny since the Charleston church massacre as the probable source of inspiration for the killer. From the Associated Press, the Guardian, and Politico. And, now Senator Heller has announced he will give his prize money from Holt to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund. [LVRJ]
The donation is good news indeed, the bad news is that the $500 from Holt’s Hate Band has been in Senator Heller’s account from September 30, 2012 until June 22, 2015 without notice on the part of Heller’s own staff.
This says something about money in politics and Republican money more specifically.
Given the massive costs of running a statewide campaign, especially in the top echelon races, it’s comprehensible that individual donations of relatively small amounts wouldn’t be cross checked for provenance. However, it’s not like the Council of Conservative Citizens is an unknown group.
“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. Among other things, its Statement of Principles says that it “oppose[s] all efforts to mix the races of mankind.” Created in 1985 from the mailing lists of its predecessor organization, the CCC, which initially tried to project a “mainstream” image, has evolved into a crudely white supremacist group…” [SPLC]
As the Republican Party has been co-opted or at least significantly influenced by the ultra-conservative Tea Party membership, the origins of money are ever more likely to come from organizations which have dubious racial and ethnic agendas – i.e. white supremacists.
Our second “given” is that it is always easier to beg forgiveness than to ask permission. Several prominent members of the Republican Party have donated CCC money to charity in the last week, all presumably because the tainted nature of the origins came to light. Granted this is speculation, but what IF by some miracle the killer in Charleston had not acted on his evil ideation? What if the basis for the hate wasn’t the propaganda of the white supremacist’s associations? Would those donations still be available to the politicians to buy air time and advertising?
In an era of Dark Money, Big Money, PAC money, and questionable non-profit money – here’s some unsolicited advice:
Well coordinated campaigns have good lines of internal communication. Policy advocates and specialists should know where the money’s coming from, and the finance specialists should be aware of the image the candidate wants to project. If a candidate doesn’t wish to be guilty by association with white supremacist groups then that needs to be conveyed to the finance directors with an admonishment to screen donations which appear questionable.
Bluntly speaking, Citizens United, while beneficial to Republican candidates in terms of corporate donations, may have made it harder for individual campaigns to discern the ultimate origins of campaign donations, which when discovered could prove embarrassing – or career ending. We have a current example – Rep. Scalise, his speech to a David Duke related organization, and Duke’s threat to reveal his connections to other politicians. [HuffPo]
When in doubt – there’s always Google?