Texas GOP executive committee says no to proposed ban on associating with Nazi sympathizers

The Texas GOP's executive committee on Saturday overwhelmingly passed a resolution supporting Israel and condemning antisemitism — but members narrowly rejected a provision barring the party from associating with people or organizations that "espouse antisemitism, pro-Nazi sympathies, or Holocaust denial."

For much of the American mainstream, Nick Fuentes’ name is probably unfamiliar, and as we’ve discussed, that’s a good thing. He is, after all, a radical who’s called for “a homeland” for white people, who’s engaged in Holocaust denialism, who’s expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler, and whose YouTube page was permanently suspended for promoting hate speech.

Fuentes nevertheless tries to maintain a high public profile — a couple of congressional Republicans have even spoken at some of his right-wing events — and he attended a meeting in Texas in October. That wouldn’t have been especially notable were it not for the fact that Matt Rinaldi, chairman of the Texas GOP, was seen going into the same building at the same time.

Rinaldi has insisted that he met with someone else at the time and didn’t even know Fuentes was there. But the controversy that followed — Fuentes did meet with others closely tied to Texas Republicans — gave a jolt to party politics in the Lone Star State.

It was against this backdrop that several members of the Texas GOP’s executive committee initially called for the party to end its associations with specific local groups known for their white supremacist ties. A proposed resolution on the matter was soon after watered down to bar associations with individuals or groups “known to espouse or tolerate antisemitism, pro-Nazi sympathies or Holocaust denial.”

As The Texas Tribune reported, this weakened effort was rejected, too.

Two months after a prominent conservative activist and fundraiser was caught hosting white supremacist Nick Fuentes, leaders of the Republican Party of Texas have voted against barring the party from associating with known Nazi sympathizers and Holocaust deniers. In a 32-29 vote on Saturday, members of the Texas GOP’s executive committee stripped a pro-Israel resolution of a clause that would have included the ban.

The Texas Tribune report added, “In a separate move that stunned some members, roughly half of the board also tried to prevent a record of their vote from being kept.”

It's one thing to get an issue wrong; it's something else when people know they're getting an issue wrong and want to keep their efforts hidden in the shadows.

Dade Phelan, the state’s Republican House speaker, called the vote “despicable,” adding that he found it remarkable that members of the Texas GOP’s executive committee “can’t even bring themselves to denounce neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers.”

Dan Patrick, Texas’ Republican lieutenant governor, had a similar reaction and described Saturday’s vote as “totally unacceptable.”

A majority of the state party’s executive committee apparently disagreed.

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 — Fuentes last month. 

The meeting, which lasted seven hours, occurred at the headquarters of Pale Horse Strategies, a political consulting group owned by Stickland. Rinaldi 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 Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton. 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." 

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." 

For what it’s worth, Texas Republican officials will meet again in February, at which point they'll likely have an another opportunity to consider the issue. 

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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