After the manifesto of the man who committed a mass murder at a black church in Charleston last week was found to contain material lifted from the white supremacist group Council of Conservative Citizens, formerly the White Citizens’ Councils, GOP politicians have been scrambling to erase their ties with the group, with several Republicans returning or donating to charity a total of tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from the group’s president.
But it’s proving to be more difficult for some in the GOP and their allies in the Religious Right to brush over a long history of ties with the group. As the Southern Poverty Law Center has reported, dozens of elected officials have attended the group’s meetings, including former RNC chair and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and current Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker. Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott has also spoken to the group, as has former Georgia congressman and Libertarian Party presidential candidate Bob Barr.
Lott and the late North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms even went so far as to provide endorsements of the CCC, according to its newsletter.
A number of prominent figures on the Religious Right have also spoken to or defended the CCC, in a sign of the uneasy and often hidden alliances between the Religious Right and racist groups.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, now a GOP presidential candidate, submitted a video presentation to the CCC’s 1993 national convention, which the group’s newsletter later reported was a smash it. TPM:
Then-Lt. Gov. Huckabee was invited to speak at the group's 1993 national convention by the its founder, Gordon Lee Baum, according to a 2008 Huffington Post report. Baum told The Huffington Post that Huckabee "sent an audio/video presentation saying 'I can't be with you but I'd like to be speaker next time'" because he was compelled to remain in Arkansas during the convention while then-Gov. Jim Guy Tucker (D) travelled out of state.
The group's 1993 newsletter, which was obtained by Edward Sebesta, who researches neo-Confederate groups, hailed Huckabee's videotaped address as a smash hit.
"Ark. Lt. Governor Mike Huckabee, unable to leave Arkansas by law because the Governor was absent from the state, sent a terrific videotape speech, which was viewed and extremely well received by the audience," the newsletter read.
Huckabee agreed to speak in person at the group’s convention the next year but canceled after a human rights group told him that he’s be sharing the stage with a white supremacist and Holocaust denier.
Back when he was a Louisiana state legislator, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins spoke to a 2001 meeting of the Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens. When asked about it several years later, Perkins said he could not “remember speaking at the event.” Unfortunately for him, there’s a picture:
Perkins also has ties to David Duke, a Louisiana politician and Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
The Alabama chief justice, a Religious Right hero who is currently battling the federal courts in an effort to stop marriage equality in his state, addressed CCC’s national conference in 1995, reports Buzzfeed.
(Image courtesy of Buzzfeed)
This is hardly Moore’s only troubling racist tie. Much of his career has been financed by Michael Peroutka, a former board member of the neo-Confederate League of the South, who shares many of his views on the role of “biblical law.” (SPLC reports that the League of the South’s and CCC’s “membership rolls overlap a good deal” and that the two groups have collaborated on events.)
John Eidsmoe is the intellectual godfather of a strain of Christian nationalism that takes to an extreme the idea that “God’s law” must always be put before “man’s law.” He is a former legal advisor to Justice Moore and now works for the Foundation for Moral Law, a group that Moore founded. He is also famously a mentor of former Rep. Michele Bachmann.
Eidsmoe spoke to the 2005 national convention of the Council of Conservative citizens. He defended himself to the New Yorker, saying he would speak “to anyone.”
Perhaps even more than the Religious Right, the anti-immigrant movement sometimes has a hard time drawing a line between itself and the explicitly racist white nationalist and white supremacist movements. For instance, the work of white supremacist Sam Francis, an editor for and enthusiastic endorser of the CCC, occasionally ends up cited in the work of more “mainstream” anti-immigrant activists.
The best example of this nexus may be Ann Coulter, the anti-immigrant pundit beloved of CCC spokesman Jared Taylor and who cites white nationalist Peter Brimelow as an intellectual influence, but who has also been welcomed at Religious Right events like the Values Voter Summit.
Coulter took it upon herself in her 2009 book “Guilty,” to defend GOP politicians who had spoken to CCC, writing that the group’s statements in opposition to “forced integration” and “efforts to mix the races of mankind” were in no way endorsements of segregation:
Republican politicians who had given speeches to a conservative group, the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), were branded sympathizers of white supremacists because some of the directors of the CCC had, decades earlier, been leaders of a segregationist group, the Citizen Councils of America, which were founded in 1954. There is no evidence on its Web page that the modern incarnation of the CCC supports segregation, though its “Statement of Principles” offers that the organization opposes “forced integration” and “efforts to mix the races of mankind.” But mostly the principles refer to subjects such as a strong national defense, the right to keep and bear arms, the traditional family, and an “America First” trade policy.
Another prominent anti-immigrant activist with ties to CCC is Roy Beck, head of the influential lobbying group Numbers USA, who addressed the group in the late 1990s. The Center for New Community dug up this photo:
This post has been updated to add Roy Beck.