Louie Gohmert fails to follow through on his promise to Charleston shooting victims

He finally donated some money after questions from ThinkProgress. But not the full amount.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) leaves a House Republican Conference meeting at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington, D.C., in this May 19, 2015, file photo. CREDIT: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) leaves a House Republican Conference meeting at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington, D.C., in this May 19, 2015, file photo. CREDIT: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Three years later, Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX) has still not followed through on a 2015 promise to donate money to victims of a shooting at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Though Gohmert did donate some money to the victims, he only made the payments earlier this year, after ThinkProgress contacted his congressional office asking about the missing contributions, Federal Elections Commission filings (here and here) show. And the two $625 donations cover just half of the total sum Gohmert had initially promised to donate.

Advertisement

The congressman pledged to make the donation after one of the most heinous acts of racial terror in recent American history, when white nationalist Dylann Roof killed nine black churchgoers at Charleston’s historic Mother Emanuel AME Church in June 2015.

In an online manifesto discovered after the shooting and since taken down, Roof described how the website for the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens inspired his intense racial hatred. The group’s president, Earl Holt, became a generous donor to some of America’s most conservative candidates after he married into a fortune in 2010.

After Roof’s manifesto came to light, Gohmert and 22 other Republican politicians who received contributions from Holt pledged to either return the funds or donate them to organizations that help the victims.

Advertisement

Gohmert even went a step further, promising to donate $2,500 to the victims — twice the $1,250 his campaign committee and leadership PAC received from Holt.

“The $750 contribution to my campaign fund and the $500 given to my PAC from a man that the Charleston shooter apparently says inspired him is being given to the Charleston church of our deceased brothers and sisters,” Gohmert said in a statement at the time.

“In fact, I am doubling those two amounts and donating those to our sister church where the victims were members so that they may best apply the money to what is needed right there where they gave their lives in prayer.”

Gohmert still hadn’t donated the money by February of this year, ThinkProgress reported at the time.

That changed after ThinkProgress contacted his congressional office to ask about the missing donations. On Feb. 20, four days after our first query, the congressman’s campaign committee cut two checks for $625 each for the Charleston victims, FEC filings show.

Advertisement

But the two payments — one to the Lowcountry Ministries Fund and the other to the Mother Emanuel Memorial Foundation — totaled just half of the $2,500 Gohmert  promised to donate.

And it’s not even clear if the two charities ever received the donations shown in the FEC filings.

The Palmetto Project, the organization that administers the Lowcountry Ministries Fund, says it has no record of any contributions from Gohmert or his campaign committee.

“We don’t have it,” Palmetto Project executive director Stephen Skardon Jr. said. “I can’t imagine they would have made it up. That is our address, but we simply don’t have a record of (receiving) it.”

Emanuel AME Church did not immediately respond to questions about whether it received Gohmert’s donation to its Mother Emanuel Memorial Foundation.

A third fund operated by the city of Charleston, the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund, has dispersed its money and is no longer accepting new donations, according to city spokesperson Jack O’Toole.

Advertisement

Gohmert’s congressional office and reelection campaign did not return multiple requests for comment left by phone, text message, and email.