By Ben Kamisar
February 8, 2016
Donald Trump said on Monday that he will return a campaign contribution from a donor described as a "determined white separatist" after the donation was questioned on the trail in New Hampshire.
“I would certainly return it if you think it is appropriate,” Trump told an attendee at a town hall event just a day before the state’s primary.
“I would return it. Don’t be so angry, I don’t even know who he is.”
The contribution in question is from William Daniel Johnson, a Los Angeles lawyer described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “determined white separatist.”
Johnson, who sponsored a robocall in Iowa supporting Trump, also praised the candidate in interviews with Talking Points Memo.
Johnson quotes highlighted on the SPLC’s website include a call for U.S. citizenship to be restricted to the “non-Hispanic white [members] of the European race.” It also notes a 2010 speech in which Johnson was upset that the mythical book and movie character Harry Potter kissed a “Chinese girl” in one of the movies based off the books by J.K. Rowling.
A William Johnson with Johnson & Associates in Los Angeles donated $250 to Donald Trump’s campaign, FEC records show. Liberal watchdog group Media Matters notes that Johnson's address matches with the addresses of nationalist groups, bolstering the argument that the donation is from the same man. The group has called on Trump to return the donation.
Michael B. Keegan, the president of People for the American Way, a group that called on Trump to return the donation, praised Trump while cautioning that he needs to change his rhetoric.
“We’re very glad to hear that Donald Trump responded to public pressure and will return the contribution from self-described white nationalist William Daniel Johnson," he said in a statement.
"This is a good first step, but Trump should follow up by renouncing the racist policies he’s been espousing on the campaign trail. Xenophobia and racism should have no place in any campaign, but we’ve seen far too much of it during the 2016 Republican presidential primary."
Trump has sparked criticism that his controversial comments about Hispanics and his call to ban Muslim immigration to America are appealing to white nationalists.
Johnson's donation can be refunded by the campaign at any time and any refund would show up in financial disclosures that will be released monthly throughout 2016.
Trump repeatedly tells supporters that he's self-funding his campaign. While the majority of Trump's campaign spending has been covered by a $12.6 million personal loan he made to the campaign, Trump has raked in almost $7 million in campaign donations since he started his bid.
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