By Robert Downen, The Texas Tribune
“Dan Patrick to use $3 million from Defend Texas Liberty to buy Israeli bonds” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
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Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick strongly condemned antisemitism in the Texas GOP on Monday and announced that his campaign is purchasing $3 million in Israel bonds — the same amount that he received this summer from a group that recently hosted prominent white supremacist Nick Fuentes.
Patrick’s statement comes more than two weeks after The Texas Tribune first reported Fuentes’ meeting with the president of Defend Texas Liberty, a major donor to Texas Republicans including Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton. Fuentes’ appearance has set off a firestorm in the state, with top Republicans such as House Speaker Dade Phelan calling on their fellow party members to redirect the money they’ve received from the group to pro-Israel charities.
Patrick’s decision Monday is a reversal. While a few Republicans followed Phelan’s suggestion, others — including Patrick — were initially defiant, framing the scandal as a one-off mistake or, in Patrick’s words, “a serious blunder.” Patrick then accused Phelan of politicizing antisemitism and demanded his resignation
On Monday, Patrick said that he was “appalled about what I am learning about the anti-Semitic activities among some in Texas who call themselves conservatives and Republicans” before noting his previous condemnation of Fuentes.
“Recently, I condemned Nick Fuentes, an avowed anti-Semite, when I learned he had met with the President of Defend Texas Liberty PAC,” Patrick said. “I was assured changes would be made. I have also learned there are other so-called Republicans who share these hateful beliefs and are trying to spread their anti-Semitic views within the GOP.”
He added that people who are antisemitic, admire Adolf Hitler or deny the Holocaust are “not welcome in our party” before urging other Republicans to review their employees’ social media before they are hired.
Patrick’s statement is the latest fallout from the Tribune’s reporting that Fuentes, an avowed Hitler fan who has encouraged his followers to beat women and fantasized about marrying a 16-year-old when he is older, had spent nearly 7 hours at the offices of Pale Horse Strategies, a consulting firm for Defend Texas Liberty-funded groups. The statement came one day after the Tribune reached out to his office for comment for a forthcoming story about other Fuentes associates who are linked to Defend Texas Liberty or groups it primarily funds.
Former Bedford state Rep. Jonathan Stickland owns Pale Horse and was the president of Defend Texas Liberty — until last week, when the group quietly updated its website to reflect it is now under the leadership of Luke Macias, a longtime right-wing activist and consultant.
Meanwhile, the Texas GOP’s top leadership body continues to squabble over its response to the Fuentes scandal. Last week, one-third of the party’s 64-member executive committee, including Vice Chair Dana Myers, called on the party and its donors to cut ties with Defend Texas Liberty until Stickland is “removed and disassociated” from the group and its benefactor organizations, and “a full accounting of the meeting is provided.”
Defend Texas Liberty is funded almost entirely by two West Texas oil billionaires, Tim Dunn and Farris Wilks, and is a key part of a sprawling network of campaigns, institutions, dark money groups and media companies that they have funded to push their far-right views.
Later Monday, Phelan took aim at Dunn and Wilks on X, formerly Twitter, though he didn’t call them out by name. He also called for the resignation of Texas GOP Chair Matt Rinaldi, a former House member who was present at Stickland’s office when Fuentes was there. Rinaldi has denied meeting with Fuentes during the visit.
“If we’re to ‘root out this cancer,’ as Lt. Gov. Patrick states, those efforts begin with Matt Rinaldi’s resignation,” Phelan wrote.
He added that donors to Defend Texas Liberty and any other Pale Horse-affiliated group should demand their money back. Then, Phelan said, those groups should be dissolved.
Rinaldi responded defiantly, saying he has been “a lifetime supported of Israel and denounced Nick Fuentes from the moment I first became aware we were in the same zip code.”
Defend Texas Liberty and its billionaire funders are also major backers to Paxton, and with their families have given him nearly twice as much as his second-largest donor, Texans for Lawsuit Reform.
Paxton had received more money from the billionaires and their groups than any other statewide politician — until this summer, when Defend Texas Liberty gave Patrick the $3 million in loans and donations before he presided over Paxton’s impeachment trial and acquittal in the Texas Senate.
Paxton has yet to release any statement or comment on the Fuentes scandal.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2023/10/23/dan-patrick-defend-texas-liberty-israel/.
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