The executive committee of the Texas Republican Party rejected a statement Saturday declaring that the party would have no association with antisemites, Holocaust deniers or Nazi sympathizers.
The anti-Nazi language, which was watered down before its ultimate rejection, stated, “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 language was proposed as part of a larger resolution affirming the party’s commitment to combating antisemitism. That resolution ultimately passed unanimously Saturday during a meeting of the executive committee but only after the language on associating with neo-Nazis, Holocaust deniers and antisemites was removed in a 32-29 vote.
Previous versions of the rejected language had also included a ban on associating with anyone known to even “tolerate” antisemitism, pro-Nazi sympathies or Holocaust denial. But that word was removed in a committee vote after arguments that it was vague.
Part of the debate over the language was streamed on the Texas GOP’s YouTube page.
“You cannot really define ‘tolerate,’ and it could really cause a lot of people, especially our leaders, a lot of trouble down the road with it,” committee member Dan Tully said, warning that the language could “put you on a slippery slope.”
After the “tolerate” language was struck in a vote, executive committee member Jim Pikl moved to strike the remaining anti-Nazi language altogether.
“Who decides what ‘antisemitism’ is? Who decides what ‘association’ is? Who decides when it crosses a line where we have to give up our association with those people? This whole resolution is just creating a complete mess for this party,” Pikl said.
Scott Bowen, another committee member, argued in support of the language, noting it did not create a new bylaw or rule but rather was a simple statement of the party’s beliefs. Committee member Francisco “Quico” Canseco, arguing against the language, said that “many people don’t even know what the definition of being an antisemite, or being a Nazi or being a white supremacist should be.”
Committee member Christin Bentley framed the debate in terms of the Republican Party’s values, referring to the argument against the language as “shameful.”
“If we can’t define what an antisemite is, or a Nazi sympathizer or a Holocaust denier, then how can we define what a communist is within our ranks? What a Marxist is? This is the same rhetoric, or nonsense, in argument that we hear from the left,” Bentley said. “We claim to be the party that understands language and definitions. We claim to be the party that understands what a woman is and what a man is. And yet we don’t understand, in this body of professionals, of capable adults with life experience, what an antisemite is? I’m sorry, if you don’t know what that word means you are not worthy of the position that you hold.”
The Texas Tribune, which first reported on the rejection of the anti-Nazi language, noted a troubling history of apparent associations between members of the Texas GOP and white nationalists. Earlier this year, the Tribune published photos of Nick Fuentes, the prominent white nationalist who has called for a “holy war” against Jews, entering the offices of Pale Horse Strategies, a high-profile far-right consulting firm in the state. Fuentes reportedly spent nearly seven hours at the offices. The state’s GOP chair, Matt Rinaldi, was seen entering the offices while Fuentes was inside, though he denied participating in any meeting with Fuentes and denounced him.
Rinaldi abstained from the vote over the ban on associating with neo-Nazis, the Tribune noted. But he said at one point during debate over the language, “I don’t see any antisemitic, pro-Nazi or Holocaust denial movement on the right that has any significant traction whatsoever. I do see it on college campuses and on the left and in the streets of large cities.”
The owner of Pale Horse Strategies, Jonathan Stickland, was also the president of the Defend Texas Liberty political action committee at the time of the Fuentes meeting. The conservative PAC, bankrolled by two oil billionaires, has funded numerous top Texas politicians, including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton, both Republicans. After the Tribune reported on the Fuentes meeting with the consulting firm, Patrick said in a statement that one of the PAC’s billionaire donors, Tim Dunn, had told him that Strickland’s meeting with Fuentes “was a serious blunder.” The lieutenant governor has denounced Fuentes but did not return $3 million donated and loaned to his campaign by Defend Texas Liberty; instead, he bought $3 million of Israeli bonds. Paxton has not commented publicly on the meeting.
Dunn came up during the debate Saturday: Pikl, the committee member who moved to strike the anti-Nazi language, warned fellow committee members that “if somebody, somewhere ― whatever metrics they want to use ― says ‘Tim Dunn gave money to some organization that has ties to Hamas,’ we no longer can take his money. We cannot associate with him. He’s out.”
The Tribune has reported in the past on others at the right-wing groups with extreme views: A social media coordinator at Pale Horse Strategies once referred to Fuentes as the “greatest civil rights leader in history” and said she dreamed of living in a country where the leading GOP presidential debate issue was “who will do more to stop white genocide instead of who will send the most money to Israel.” The treasurer for Defend Texas Liberty has said “Jews & Muslims worship a false god.”