Texas Republican Party rejects ban on associating with Nazi sympathizers
On Saturday, the Executive Committee of the Texas Republican Party considered the following resolution:
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Republican Party of Texas have no association whatsoever with any individual or organization that is known to espouse anti-Semitism, pro-Nazi sympathies, or Holocaust denial.
The Executive Committee voted down the proposal by a vote of 32-29. According to the Texas Tribune, several members of the Executive Committee said the word "anti-Semitism" was "too vague" and "could create future problems for the party, its leaders and candidates." Executive Committee member Dan Tully called the resolution a "slippery slope."
Texas Senator Bob Hall (R) visited the hotel where the Executive Committee was meeting to lobby against the resolution. In an interview with the Texas Tribune, Hall indicated that the Texas Republicans should have the flexibility to meet with Nazis and anti-Semites. “I've had meetings with transgenders, gays and lesbians,” Hall said. “Does that make me a transgender, gay or a lesbian?” Asked if he was comparing LGBTQ people to white supremacists, Hall said they are all people "who are political hot potatoes."
Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) called the vote "despicable" and lamented that the Texas GOP "can’t even bring themselves to denounce neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers." He said the vote was evidence of an "anti-Semitic rot festering" in the Republican Party. (Phelan said there was a similar "rot" in the Democratic Party but did not elaborate.)
The vote was also condemned by several members of the Executive Committee. Rolando Garcia, the Executive Committee member who drafted the language rejecting anti-Semitism, said the vote "sends a very disturbing message."
The resolution was prompted by a meeting between Jonathan Stickland — president of the far-right Defend Texas Liberty PAC and a former state representative — with notorious white supremacist Nick Fuentes last month. Fuentes describes himself as “just like Hitler,” denies the Holocaust, defends Jim Crow segregation, and says that he’s seeking a “total Aryan victory.”
The meeting, which lasted seven hours, occurred at the headquarters of Pale Horse Strategies, a political consulting group owned by Stickland. Matt Rinaldi, the chair of the Texas Republican Party, was seen entering the building while Fuentes was there. Rinaldi denies meeting Fuentes but hasn't detailed what he was doing at Pale Horse Strategies. Strickland and Rinaldi are close associates.
The meeting between Fuentes and Strickland was not an isolated incident. The Texas Tribune reported that Shelby Griesinger, the treasurer for Defend Texas Liberty PAC, "claimed on social media that Jews worship a false god and shared memes that depict them as the enemy of Republicans." A social media coordinator for Pale Horse Strategies called Fuentes as the “greatest civil rights leader in history.” Defend Texas Liberty PAC also funds Texans for Strong Borders, an organization with ties to Fuentes.
Defend Texas Liberty PAC is a major contributor to top Texas Republicans, including millions to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (R) and Attorney General Ken Paxton (R). Phelan and 60 other Republican members of the Texas House called on "all elected officials who have benefited from contributions by Defend Texas Liberty PAC to immediately redirect those funds to charitable organizations."
Popular Information previously reported that one Texas Republican, Representative Stan Kitzman, did redirect the money to charity. But the others appear to be keeping the money. In a short statement, Defend Texas Liberty PAC said it opposed Fuentes' “incendiary views” but did not explain why the meeting occurred. The PAC also rejected "Phelan's effort to combine Defend Texas Liberty PAC with Nick Fuentes." Patrick called on Phelan to resign for suggesting the money be returned.
Defend Texas Liberty PAC later quietly removed Strickland from its website and named a new president. It is not clear what role Strickland will have with Defend Texas Liberty PAC in the future. It may not matter. A significant portion of Defend Texas Liberty PAC's funding is routed to Strickland's consulting firm, Pale Horse Strategies. Phelan said that "removing Stickland as President of Defend Texas Liberty is frankly a hollow gesture so long as Pale Horse Strategies is getting paid handsomely."
The vote by the Texas Republican Party Executive Committee is the latest sign that the party has become an extremist organization. Nevertheless, the Texas Republican Party continues to enjoy significant financial support from prominent corporations.
The corporate backers of the Texas Republican Party
The Texas Republican Party's refusal to distance itself from anti-Semites, Nazi sympathizers, and Holocaust deniers is part of the party's descent into radicalism that has been ongoing for several years.
In June 2022, for example, the Texas Republican Party adopted a platform that described homosexuality as "an abnormal lifestyle choice," claimed that Biden was not "legitimately elected," called on the Texas legislature to affirm the state's right to secede from the union, demanded all Texas students be taught that "life begins at fertilization," and advocated for the repeal of the Voting Rights Act.
In January 2021, the Texas Republican Party changed its slogan to “We are the Storm.” That phrase is closely associated with QAnon, the extremist conspiracy theory that alleges top Democrats are Satan-worshippers running a child trafficking ring and that Trump is the only person who can stop them.
The party also began posting on Gab, a fringe social network that caters to white nationalists.
And yet the Texas Republican Party has continued to collect large contributions from prominent corporations. Top corporate contributors to the Texas Republican Party over the last two years include Chevron ($50,000), Charter Communications ($45,000), Anheuser-Busch ($10,000), CenterPoint Energy ($15,000), Las Vegas Sands Corporation ($10,000), Frontier Communications ($5,000), and Oncor ($5,000). The donations came not from company PACs but directly from corporate treasuries, which is permitted under Texas law.
The party also received $25,000 from the Sports Betting Alliance, an organization that represents Draft Kings, BetMGM, FanDuel, and Fanatics.
In response to a request for comment, CenterPoint Energy said it “stands firmly against any act of anti-Semitism, pro-Nazi sympathies or Holocaust denial.” CenterPoint Energy did not indicate whether they would continue to fund the Texas Republican Party. Oncor declined to comment. The other companies and the Sports Betting Alliance did not respond to a request for comment.