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Defend Texas Liberty, Dunn Give Big to Texas GOP

Two Donors Account for 99% of Funds Raised in Latest Reporting Period

In a campaign finance report filed with the Texas Ethics Commission last week, the Republican Party of Texas reported raising $136,470 for the Party’s state account during the most recent campaign finance reporting period. Of that sum, $100,000 came from the Defend Texas Liberty PAC, and $35,000 came from Midland oilman Tim Dunn. These two donations accounted for 99% of funds raised by the Republican Party of Texas state account during the reporting period.

The campaign finance report, filed on April 28, covers the period between March 28 and April 26. The Republican Party of Texas also maintains a federal account, which submits campaign finance reports to the Federal Election Commission. Unlike the Party’s state account, which can receive contributions in unlimited amounts, the Party’s federal account is subject to federal campaign contribution limits.

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Run by former State Representative Jonathan Stickland, Defend Texas Liberty PAC has recently become one of the largest donors to the Republican Party of Texas. Since 2022, Defend Texas Liberty has donated $257,500 to the Republican Party of Texas. Tim Dunn is the largest donor to Defend Texas Liberty PAC, having contributed over $7 million to it over the last two years.

During the 2022 primary election cycle, Defend Texas Liberty spent at least $7.8 million. These funds were spent, in large part, on unsuccessful efforts to unseat Governor Greg Abbott and 20 incumbent Republican members of the Texas House of Representatives.

Jake Neidert, a self-described “Christian Nationalist,” was paid $9,750 by Defend Texas Liberty during the 2022 election cycle. Neidert was the subject of controversy late last year after State Representative Tony Tinderholt hired him despite a history of social media posts that included violent rhetoric.

Morgan McComb, an advocate for the secession of Texas from the United States of America who is currently under indictment on felony charges of online impersonation, was paid $13,060 by Defend Texas Liberty last year. McComb filed a defamation lawsuit against State Representative Jeff Leach last month that is widely regarded as frivolous.

Defend Texas Liberty’s large donations to the Republican Party of Texas coincide with the Party’s increasingly hostile tone towards Republican members of the Texas House of Representatives.

In January, the Republican Party of Texas ran radio ads attacking Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan despite Phelan’s role in passing landmark conservative legislation on issues such as gun rights, election integrity, and defending human life. Earlier this year, The Texas Voice reported that Phelan spent over $2 million to defend and grow the Republican majority in the Texas House against Democrats. In comparison, the Republican Party of Texas spent just $10,000 outside of candidate “pass-through” dollars.

More recently, the Republican Party of Texas has used its e-mail list and communications infrastructure to disseminate misleading and, at times, demonstrably false information about Republican leadership in the Texas House.

On April 24, the Republican Party of Texas published and distributed a legislative update falsely claiming that House Bill 1243, to increase the criminal penalty for illegal voting to a felony, was “being held” in the House Elections Committee by Chairman Reggie Smith. In reality, House Bill 1243 was passed out of the House Elections Committee on April 20. It was placed on a House calendar as soon as the Calendars committee received all the necessary paperwork. The bill received final passage in the Texas House on April 28 and is now pending in the Texas Senate.

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