In His Own Words “Why can’t European-Americans be concerned with this genocide [of white people]? Is it racial to say that?” — Associated Press interview, 1998
“The Citizens Councils of America were never known as the White Citizens Council. They were never involved in violence. They had over a million members… . They had governors, senators. And I can guarantee you there’s people sitting up in the United States Congress with you today that were members of the old Citizens Councils of America … that you call it the ‘white-collar Klan.’ Well, give me proof of one person other than the Southern Poverty Law Center that’s ever called it that. That’s a fiction out of your own brain!” — On Fox News Channel’s “The Crier Report,” 1999
“And I will stand by the contention that the most discriminated group in this country are the poor white working males. I will not back down from that, but I don’t think Congress ought to condemn us.” — On Fox News Channel’s “The Crier Report,” 1999
Background A personal injury lawyer specializing in auto accidents and workmen's compensation claims in St. Louis, Mo., Baum helped form the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) in 1985 based on the mailing lists of the segregationist White Citizens Councils (formally called the Citizens Councils of America) for whom he had been the Midwest field organizer. The CCC grew to include some 15,000 members, mostly in the Deep South, and to have genuine political power in the mid- to late 1990s. During part of that period, it boasted 34 members in the Mississippi legislature, but revelations of the CCC's racism have since ended most of its pull in the halls of power.
Baum was instrumental in building up the CCC, having come up with the idea of using the old mailing lists and then presiding over one of the few white supremacist organizations to gain substantial membership and support from political figures. By nature a quiet, behind-the-scenes operator, Baum rarely takes the spotlight for himself, instead highlighting the work of his colleagues and the CCC's local chapters.
Most Americans only learned of the CCC in late 1998, when a scandal erupted over prominent Southern politicians' ties to the brazenly racist group. After it was revealed that former Congressman Bob Barr (R-Ga.) gave the keynote speech at the CCC's 1998 national convention and that then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) had spoken to the group five times, both claimed they knew virtually nothing about the group (although Lott's uncle told The New York Times that the senator had, in fact, been a member for years). However, an Intelligence Report investigation picked up by several network newscasts and major newspapers made it crystal clear what the CCC was: a hate group that routinely denigrated blacks as "genetically inferior," complained about "Jewish power brokers," called LGBT people "perverted sodomites," accused non-white immigrants of turning America into a "slimy brown mass of glop," and named Lester Maddox, the baseball bat-wielding, arch-segregationist former governor of Georgia, "Patriot of the Century."
As evidence of widespread associations between Southern GOP officeholders and the CCC mounted, Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson took the unusual step in 1998 of asking party members to resign from the group because of its "racist views." A resolution moved through the U.S. Congress "condemning the racism and bigotry espoused by the Council of Conservative Citizens," although it ultimately failed.
Initially, after the Intelligence Report and others detailed the CCC's racism, Baum seemed to react calmly, defending himself and the group as best he could and insisting that his was a "mainstream" group. But as politicians and the press turned against him, Baum showed an angry and petulant side, and did not help his cause when he went on national media outlets and fretted about black men raping white women and similar racially charged matters.
After the Lott scandal, the CCC essentially abandoned its longstanding attempts to portray itself as a mainstream conservative organization. Baum, who as late as 2001 was telling reporters that the council was "not anti-black" or "anti-anything," went on to preside over an organization that did not hesitate to publish screeds calling blacks "a retrograde species of humanity" or to post pictures on its website of alleged black criminals and terrorists over a headline reading, "Is the face of DEATH black after all?"
Since 1995, Baum and his local St. Louis chapter leader Earl Holt have had a radio show, "Right at Night," on WGNU-AM in that Missouri city. As the CCC has moved further to the right, the radio show has reflected the group's radicalization. For example, Holt got into hot water in 2003 after attacking an anti-racist as a "nigger lover" in an E-mail later made public. Holt was "called on the carpet" by the station (not by Baum) but not kicked off the air.
After a 2004 exposé by the Intelligence Report showed that dozens of state and even national politicians, predominantly Republicans from Mississippi, were still speaking to the group even after they were asked to stop in 1998 by the GOP, most political pandering to the CCC ended. The CCC's in-house newsletter, Citizens Informer, has since run very few reports of elected officials speaking to the council. In recent years, Baum has mostly lobbied racists and other extremists to join the CCC, particularly at the semiannual meetings of the anti-black group, American Renaissance, having given up on the political class.
Most recently, the CCC has taken on new life as it turns its attention from traditional issues like busing and affirmative action to strident attacks on non-white immigration — a shift that is reflected clearly in the pages of the Citizens Informer. Baum's role has somewhat diminished since 2006, possibly due to health problems.