The Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC) traces its roots directly to the racist anti-integrationist White Citizens Councils (later configured as the Citizens’ Councils of America) of the 1950s and 1960s. Gordon Baum, who was an organizer for the Citizens’ Councils of America, helped found the CofCC in 1985. The national organization is based in St. Louis, where Baum lives but the group’s approximately dozen local chapters operate autonomously.
Despite the CofCC’s white supremacist agenda, it tries to promote itself as a conservative advocacy group. The group exploits hot-button issues such as immigration, crime, gun control and the preservation of Southern culture to promote its bigoted views. At its annual conferences, the CofCC invites well-known white supremacists to speak on various issues devoted to preserving the white majority in the U.S. In spite of its extremist views, the group has managed to attract mainstream politicians to its meetings. In addition, some CofCC chapter have tried to appeal to Tea Party activists. For example, the CofCC Ohio chapter holds itself out as the Springboro Tea Party.
A mix of conservative principles with extremism
In 2005, the CofCC voted to adopt a “Statement of Principles,” which it still uses today as the blueprint for the group’s ideology. Sam Francis, a well-known racist who died in 2005, drafted the statement, which mixes conservative principles and a call for maintaining a white majority and segregation in the United States. The statement promotes positions that are common on the far right such as opposing all international treaties; framing the U.S. as a constitutional republic; advocating states’ rights and the right to bear arms; supporting free enterprise and a strong national defense and opposing homosexuality. At the same time, CofCC asserts that America is a Christian country and that the “American people and government should remain European in their composition and character.”
CofCC explicitly states that it opposes “all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called ‘affirmative action’ and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races.”
Members of the CofCC express their views in the pages of the group’s publication, The Citizens Informer. Most articles in the publication focus on alleged threats to the white population of the U.S., such as loss of political power and increasing non-white immigration. In one issue, CofCC member Sidney Secular describes immigrants as “mainly mestizo half-breeds” and decries the “ethnic and racial balkanization and hostile anti-white attitudes framed by liberalism.” Another member, Col. Robert Slimp, who often writes about preserving Southern culture, refers to immigration as an “invasion” of the country, and claims, “If this state of affairs continues, a majority of the U.S. population will be non-European aliens, and then our country will be gone forever.”
The group also belittles the black community by asserting that whites have an innate superiority and that blacks are prone to crime and violence. The CofCC website features dozens of daily articles that highlight alleged crimes by blacks against whites.
Kyle Rogers, a young leader and webmaster of the CofCC website, wrote a 2013 article in which he attacked the federal government for allegedly having a plan to forcibly integrate white neighborhoods. He disparaged blacks for not wanting to improve their own neighborhoods and claimed that the federal government was implying that the only way for blacks to live in a safe neighborhood was to move into a white area.
While the group does not make anti-Semitism its main focus, it invites well-known anti-Semites to speak at conferences and CofCC members have expressed anti-Jewish views, particularly at the group’s 2013 annual conference in North Carolina.
In November 2013, Gordon Baum’s daughter Renee Baum married an active young white supremacist, Brad Griffin, who uses the pseudonym “Hunter Wallace” for his “Occidental Dissent” blog. Griffin is an anti-Semite who claimed that "White Nationalists have legitimate fears of Jewish sabotage" in an article he wrote after the group's national conference in June 2013.
A range of activities
The CofCC annual conferences feature an array of white supremacist speakers. They include CofCC leaders such as James Edwards, a board member who runs The Political Cesspool, a white supremacist radio show, and leaders from other organizations such as Jared Taylor from American Renaissance and Paul Fromm, a racist lawyer from Canada. Typical CofCC themes, such as non-white immigration, preserving European-American culture, and evils of liberalism dominate the conferences.
While the CofCC tends to attract an older crowd, the group has tried to do outreach to younger white supremacists. At the group’s 2013 national conference, one of the main speakers was Matthew Heimbach, the founder of the Traditionalist Youth Network, a small white supremacist group that tries to reach college and high school students. Heimbach used his platform at the CofCC conference to call for “secession along racial lines” so that “we are not completely destroyed and wiped out as is the agenda of the elites.” He also attacked Jews in his speech as wanting “to subvert our people and our civilization.” In addition to Heimbach, speakers included Taylor, who spoke about the displacement of white population in America.
In addition to its conferences, the CofCC participates in activities with other groups. In February 2012, CofCC was part of the nationwide Free South Africa Project, which sought to bring attention to the alleged “genocide” of white South African farmers. A year later, in February 2013, a number of local CofCC chapters took part in the Free America Rally project and held protests around the country against America’s changing demographics. The CofCC joined white supremacists from a number of other groups, including the American Freedom Party, at that event. In November 2013, CofCC joined the League of the South, a racist group that wants to preserve Southern culture, to protest the removal of a statue of Tom Watson, a white supremacist politician active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, from the Georgia State Capitol.
Seeping into the mainstream
Despite its extremist views, the CofCC has a foot in the mainstream. The group has also attracted mainstream speakers, including an Alabama State Senator who attended the national CofCC conference in 2012. A year later, the CofCC advertised that Tom Tancredo, a former Congressman from Colorado was scheduled to speak at its 2013 conference, but he did not appear at the event.
The group did receive a lot of media attention for past speakers. In 1992, Senator Trent Lott spoke at CofCC's annual conference. In 1998, Representative Bob Barr spoke to the CofCC. Both politicians claimed they were not aware of the group’s racism.
The group has made other forays into the mainstream. In 2010, Roan Garcia-Quintana, a CofCC board member, spoke out against illegal immigration at a Senate hearing in South Carolina. In 2013, Garcia-Quintana was part of the reelection steering committee for South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, but was kicked off the committee after his ties to the CofCC surfaced in the media.
Some of the group’s views also have made it into the mainstream media. When Kyle Rogers wrote a race-baiting column attacking Trayvon Martin, a black youth who was shot and killed in a controversial incident in Florida, an Associated Press reporter quoted Rogers in an article. The CofCC has managed to stay active and attract members by exploiting these kinds of mainstream issues.