GOP calls on party official to resign

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The head of the Arkansas GOP called for the resignation Tuesday of a county-level party official who has refused to cut his ties with a group that calls itself "pro-white."

Arkansas Republican Party Chairman Doyle Webb said John Casteel hasn't given up his membership to the Council of Conservative Citizens. The St. Louis-based group claims on its website to "oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind."

"As a result, I have asked him to resign as Jackson County Chairman," Webb said in a statement to The Associated Press. "If Mr. Casteel chooses not to resign, the matter will be referred to the state executive committee for resolution."

Casteel didn't respond to several messages left Tuesday seeking comment. Casteel's e-mail address had been listed as the contact for the Arkansas branch of the council's website until Monday, when the AP contacted the group about Casteel's involvement.

Clippings kept by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a Montgomery, Ala.-based organization that tracks hate groups, include a council newsletter showing Casteel at a Conservative Citizens board meeting in 2007. His insurance agency advertised in the same newsletter earlier in the decade.

Webb called on Casteel to quit the "pro-white" group on Monday, saying its principles run contrary to the GOP's. But when he spoke with Casteel on the phone Tuesday, Webb learned that Casteel decided to ignore the state GOP's request.

The Council of Conservative Citizens has declined to confirm whether Casteel belongs to the organization, which grew out of organizations that battled school integration in the 1950s and 1960s.

"We do not divulge who our members are," said Gordon Lee Baum, the group's CEO. "But we're not a secret organization."

But Baum insisted: "We're not white supremacists. We're not racists. We are pro-white, but we have non-white members. ... We're not the Ku Klux Klan or goofy crap like that."

On its website, the organization rails against immigration from non-European countries.

"We oppose 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," the group's website says.

Casteel also served on the Arkansas Manufactured Home Commission from 2004 to at least 2009, according to records obtained by the AP. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee appointed him to the position, but the ex-governor-turned-presidential hopeful wasn't aware of Casteel's involvement with the pro-white group, said his former spokesman, Jim Harris.

If someone was involved in anything that even hinted of being racist, Huckabee "certainly wouldn't appoint you to anything," Harris said, adding that he didn't remember Casteel in particular.

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