Wikimedia Commons / Gage Skidmore
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick: Would you trust a man who actually picked out and paid for that shirt?
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said he won't return $3 million he received from a far-right political action committee whose leader last week held an almost seven-hour meeting with high-profile white supremacist Nick Fuentes.
, released Wednesday afternoon, comes in response to a bombshell report
by the Texas Tribune that Johnathan Stickland, president of the Defend Texas Liberty PAC, hosted Fuentes — a holocaust denier who's called for a "holy war" against Jews — at the Fort Worth office of Stickland's political consulting business, Pale Horse Strategies.
Defend Texas Liberty, which made the $3 million in donations and loans to Patrick is funded by Texas oilmen Tim Dunn and Farris Wilks, a pair of billionaires who have bankrolled some of Texas’ most extreme right-wing candidates.
In his statement, Patrick said Dunn told him "unequivocally that it was a serious blunder” for Stickland to have met with Fuentes and that "everyone at the PAC understands that mistakes were made and are being corrected."
“I accept Mr. Dunn at his word," Patrick added. "I know him to be a man of integrity and an avid and staunch supporter of Israel.”
Patrick went on to blame recent criticism of the $3 million donation on an "orchestrated smear campaign" by Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, a fellow Republican.
After the Texas Tribune's story broke, Phelan issued a statement blasting Stickland for holding the meeting, saying it represented a "moral, political rot that has been festering in a certain segment of our party for far too long."
Enrique Marquez, Phelan's chief of staff, fired back at Patrick
on X, the online platform formerly known as Twitter. He skewered the lieutenant governor for his choice of words to describe Stickland's marathon meeting with Fuentes.
"Mismatching socks is a 'blunder,'" Marquez said. "Meeting with a pro-rape, pro-Taliban, pro-Hitler, anti-Semitic, Holocaust denier like Nick Fuentes for 6.5 [hours] is NOT a blunder."
Robert Downen, the Tribune reporter who broke the story of Stickland's meeting with Fuentes also chimed in on X
with additional context for the meeting.
"Worth noting that this 'blunder' statement doesn't explain why Pale Horse employs a woman who has called Nick Fuentes 'the greatest civil rights leader in history,' or the firm's ties to Texans For Strong Borders founder Chris Russo, who chauffeured Fuentes on Friday."
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