Hate group that inspired Charleston shooter pays no taxes

Dylann Roof appears in a photograph taken from the website LastRhodesian.com. (Image: Handout)

Dylann Roof appears in a photograph taken from the website LastRhodesian.com. (Image: Handout)

The Council of Conservative Citizens, a white supremacist organization that was cited in a manifesto believed to have been published by a man who police say killed nine parishioners inside a South Carolina church last week, is a tax-exempt non-profit organization, according to a report.

The Center for Public Integrity reported on Wednesday the white supremacist group is a registered 501(c)(4) with the Internal Revenue Service. Such organizations are not required to pay taxes to the government, a form of taxpayer subsidy, the news organization said.

The Council of Conservative Citizens says on its website that its members advocate for Americans to “remain European in their composition and character” and oppose race mixing.

The group was cited in a 2,400-word manifesto believed to have been published online by 21-year-old Dylann Roof, who police have identified as the main suspect involved in a brutal attack on a predominantly black church in South Carolina last Wednesday.

Nine people were killed in the mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. The dead included South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney who also served as the church’s senior pastor.

In the manifesto published on the website LastRhodesian.com, Roof said he first became interested in race issues following the trial of George Zimmerman, a Florida man who was acquitted in connection with the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. After looking into the matter, Roof wrote that his research into racial matters first led him to the website of the Council of Conservative Citizens where he claimed to have found “pages upon pages of…brutal black on white murders.”

Police said on Wednesday they believe with a high degree of certainty that Roof posted the manifesto online, and that the suspect had confessed to the mass shooting. Federal investigators are now seriously considering tacking on hate crime charges in addition to nine murder charges Roof currently faces.

The Center for Public Integrity noted that non-profit organizations are supposed to “primarily promote the common good and general welfare of the people of the community as a whole,” and that organizations who do not meet their public obligations under IRS rules can have their non-profit status stripped.

But getting to that point has been made somewhat complicated in recent years, specifically due to a scandal involving the IRS’ targeting of conservative non-profit groups, some of which were affiliated with the Tea Party movement. At least one expert told the Center for Public Integrity that it could be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to convince Republican lawmakers in Congress to strip political groups of their tax-exempt status because of the scandal.