A former campaign volunteer to South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) on Friday defended his membership in a group that the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled a white supremacist organization. Roan Garcia-Quintana said the group, the Council of Conservative Citizens, "supports Caucasian heritage" but denied that it is "racist."
“Is it racist to be proud of your own heritage? Is it racist to want to keep your own heritage pure?” Garcia-Quintana said in an interview with The State newspaper. According to Garcia-Quintana, who is Cuban-American, "racist is when you hate somebody so much that you want to destroy them.”
His comments were made two days before Haley's campaign formally cut ties with the conservative activist on Sunday, writing in a statement that, “we were previously unaware of some of the statements [Garcia-Quintana] had made, statements which do not well represent the views of the Governor.”
Garcia-Quintana serves on the board of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a group which opposes, "all efforts to mix the races of mankind," or to "promote non-white races over the European-American people." It also opposes any attempts "to force the integration of the races."
Representatives for the Haley campaign initially defended the conservative activist, telling The State in an email that, "there is nothing racial about this Cuban-American’s participation in the political process." The email, from Haley campaign aide Tim Pearson, noted that Haley is Indian-American.
Garcia-Quintana also runs an anti-immigration group called the Americans Have Had Enough Coalition, which fights what it calls the "Illegal Alien Invasion."
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Garcia-Quintana does not consider himself Latino, but a descendant of the Spaniards who settled Cuba. He writes on his professional biography that he was, "made in Havana and raised in Savannah."