Texas Republican Party votes against ban on associating with Nazi sympathizers

The vote comes two months after a top conservative activist and former Texas House member was caught hosting white supremacist Nick Fuentes for an hours-long meeting.

click to enlarge Texas Republican Party Chairman Matt Rinaldi said antisemitism isn't a problem in right-wing politics. - Twitter / @TexasGOP
Twitter / @TexasGOP
Texas Republican Party Chairman Matt Rinaldi said antisemitism isn't a problem in right-wing politics.
Over the weekend, the Texas Republican Party voted against a resolution banning its officials from associating with know Nazi sympathizers, antisemites and Holocaust deniers, the Texas Tribune reports.

Saturday's 32-29 vote by the state GOP's executive committee comes two months after a top conservative activist and former Texas House member was caught hosting white supremacist Nick Fuentes for a seven-hour meeting. Texas Republican Party Chair Matt Rinaldi was also in the same building for a portion of that time, but subsequently claimed he was unaware of Fuentes' presence.

During Saturday's meeting, the executive committee voted to remove the ban on associating with Nazi sympathizers from a pro-Israel statement being issued by the Texas GOP. Then, in a separate vote, roughly half the committee's members also tried to prevent the removal from being noted in official records, according the Tribune. The latter move reportedly "stunned some members."

Rinaldi abstained from the vote on the ban, the Tribune reports. However, he argued that antisemitism isn't a serious issue in right-wing circles, according to the story. Other board members argued that the resolution's language was too vague.

"I don't see any antisemitic, pro-Nazi or Holocaust denial movement on the right that has any significant traction whatsoever," Rinaldi said.

The vote comes as tensions rise between the extreme right of Texas' Republican Party and those who hold more mainstream conservative views. Rinaldi and other hardliners have been engaged in a heated verbal war with Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, a Beaumont Republican who's blasted the GOP's willingness to coddle extremism.

In a tweet, Phelan — who called for Rinaldi's resignation earlier this fall — described Saturday's vote as "despicable."

"@TexasGOP/SREC can’t even bring themselves to denounce neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers or cut ties with their top donor who brought them to the dance," Phelan said.

Pale Horse Strategies — the political consulting group that hosted Fuentes — is owned by Jonathan Stickland, a former state representative known for inflammatory rhetoric, including thanking rapper Kanye West for posting an antisemitic screed online.

At the time of his meeting with Fuentes, Stickland headed political action committee Defend Texas Liberty, which is bankrolled by a pair of West Texas oil billionaires who have funded far-right candidates including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Democrats also jumped on the dogpile following the vote by the Texas GOP's executive committee.

"Hate has no home in Texas. Anyone who thinks otherwise doesn’t belong in leadership or public office," State Sen. Roland Gutierrez of San Antonio tweeted as he reshared the Texas Tribune report. "With antisemitism on the rise nationally, we must root out hate and intolerance wherever they exist."

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