The co-chair of presidential candidate Mitt Romney's finance committee contributed to a group that used the money for a newspaper ad comparing Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm to Adolf Hitler.
John Rakolta said he and other Republicans unwittingly paid for the ad with contributions to Voice the Vote, a Detroit-based political action committee. The full-page ad last summer featured a photo of Hitler and urged black voters to reject Granholm's 2006 re-election bid. The ad included a swastika and photo of Granholm, who defeated Republican businessman Dick DeVos in November.
The ad appeared in the Michigan Chronicle, the state's largest black newspaper.
The Democratic National Committee on Tuesday took issue with Rakolta's role in the presidential campaign and called on Romney to disavow attack ads. Rakolta, in an interview with The Associated Press, criticized the DNC.
"All the Democrats are trying to do is embarrass Mitt Romney," John Rakolta said by telephone Tuesday. "I'm not going to let one or two people, or the Democratic National Committee stop me from fundraising for Mitt Romney."
Purchase of the PAC
The Detroit Free Press reported last week that Rakolta and his wife each donated $5,000 to Voice the Vote, as did Detroit developer Peter Cummings and his wife. Grosse Pointe, Mich., businessman Robert Liggett donated $1,000.
Of the $29,000 raised by Voice the Vote, $21,000 came from the Rakoltas, the Cummings and Liggett, according to the Free Press.
"I was approached by a group of people who said the purpose of the PAC was to increase voter turnout in the African-American community," Rakolta said.
Damien LaVera, spokesman for the DNC, said Rakolta's position on Romney's finance committee raises questions about the type of presidential campaign the Republican candidate plans on running.
"It's incumbent on Mitt Romney to say whether or not he supports those campaign tactics or those ads," LaVera said Tuesday. "Does Romney stand by these types of ads and tactics or not?"
Rakolta said he has withdrawn "100 percent" of his support from Voice the Vote.
"This is not going to cause me to shy away from the City of Detroit and continuing to improve racial harmony," he said. "One of my tenets is to see people of color and minorities well-represented in government."