Meeting involving anti-semititic Nick Fuentes escalates fighting between Texas GOP leaders

A meeting between the conservative group Defend Texas Liberty (DTL) and right-wing gadfly Nick Fuentes over the weekend sent ripples throughout the Texas political scene that culminated in Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) calling on Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to return $3 million from the group and a counterpunch call for the speaker’s resignation.

The Texas Tribune reported that DTL — a political action committee run by former state Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) — hosted Fuentes at Pale Horse Strategies’ Fort Worth office on Friday for multiple hours; Pale Horse is Stickland’s consulting firm that undergirds DTL.

Fuentes is a notorious far-right, anti-semititic commentator who has espoused admiration for Adolf Hitler and is the leader for the right-wing online “Groyper” movement.

Phelan issued a statement on Monday morning referencing the weekend’s terrorist attack by Palestinian Sunni Islamist militant group Hamas against Israel, saying, “At a time when we are witnessing heinous attacks on our Israeli allies by Hamas terrorists — the most egregious assault on Jewish lives since the Holocaust — Jonathan Stickland, the President of Defend Texas Liberty PAC, fraternized for six hours with a notorious, anti-Semitic, nazi sympathizer who denies the existence of the Holocaust.”

DTL issued a statement Monday afternoon, saying, "We reject Speaker Phelan's effort to combine Defend Texas Liberty PAC with Nick Fuentes. We oppose Mr. Fuentes' incendiary views."

“This not just a casual misstep. It’s indicative of the moral, political rot that has been festering in a certain segment of our party for far too long. Anti-Semitism, bigotry and Hitler apologists should find no sanctuary in the Republican party," said Phelan.

He then called on all state officials who’ve received contributions from DTL to donate every one of those dollars to charity, specifically mentioning Patrick and the Republican Party of Texas in his statement.

Patrick received a $1 million contribution and a $2 million loan from DTL during the first half of 2023, and the party was given $132,500 from the PAC.

The lieutenant governor hit back at Phelan in a statement, saying, “I didn’t think even Dade Phelan would stoop this low. He has now absolutely hit rock bottom. His latest political stunt is disgusting, despicable, and disingenuous.”

“With nearly 1,000 dead and over a hundred kidnapped, anyone who would use the war in Israel for their own political purposes is revolting, repulsive, and repugnant.”

Patrick then addressed the meeting, saying, “Nick Fuentes and his antisemitic rhetoric have no place in the United States. Those who spew such vile, loathsome, abominations will have to answer for it.”

“For anyone to try to use these invectives for their own political gain is below contempt. I am calling on Dade Phelan to resign his position before the House gavels in this afternoon.”

In the aftermath of the acquittal of Attorney General Ken Paxton, Patrick said Phelan was “unworthy of his leadership position.” Phelan had criticized Patrick for taking the $3 million before the trial from DTL who was actively campaigning for acquittal.

But this is the first time Patrick has dropped the word “resign.”

About the Texas GOP, Phelan said, “I call upon Chairman Matt Rinaldi to direct the party to donate these Defend Texas Liberty funds to charity. And if doing so would take the party into the red, I would be happy to provide a short-term loan until Chairman Rinaldi can replace the money with other donations.”

Rinaldi — who was at the Pale Horse office Friday for an unrelated meeting, and denounced Fuentes — said, “Speaker Phelan has indeed hit rock bottom, trying to leverage the war in Israel for his own political survival.” 

“We continue to stand against antisemites like Nick Fuentes and his repulsive, vile ideology, which have no place in the Republican Party or mainstream political discourse, and those like Phelan that would use tragedies like the war in Israel to score cheap political points.”

And about the financial portion of the speaker’s statement, Rinaldi said, “Also, Speaker Phelan may have been drinking again when he pulled Texas GOP’s financials. As of August 31, we had $1,043,153 in cash on hand.”

The Texas GOP chairman has long feuded with Phelan, and has even gone so far as to endorse the speaker’s primary opponent David Covey.

As the Texas Legislature convenes Monday to tackle a handful of issues including the much-debated school choice proposal, the feud between its top two officials and the overarching rift in Texas’ GOP circle boils over — again.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post