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Key Players in Major Donors’ Political Network Awarded Texas GOP Convention Leadership Roles

Multiple Organizations Tied to Major Donors Listed as Convention Sponsors

Several individuals with close ties to the political network of prominent political donors Tim Dunn and Farris Wilks have been appointed to leadership roles at the Republican Party of Texas State Convention later this week. 

Dunn and entities associated with him donated more than 66% of the funds raised by the Republican Party of Texas’ state account last year. Dunn’s donations to a SuperPAC that supported Beto O’Rourke’s first election to Congress, which totaled $500,000, have been an issue in Republican Primary campaigns where groups backed by Dunn and Wilks have engaged. 

The Texas Voice has previously reported that outgoing Republican Party of Texas State Chairman Matt Rinaldi began working last year for Farjo Holdings, LP, a business entity controlled by Farris Wilks and his wife. Members of the Wilks family are also the controlling shareholders of ProFrac Holding Corp., which has promoted controversial Environmental, Social, and Governance (“ESG”) and Diversity and Inclusion (“DI”) initiatives within the company. These initiatives have incorporated Sustainable Development Goals published by the United Nations. 

As State Chairman, Rinaldi has sole authority to appoint the temporary chairmen of Congressional District caucuses at the Republican Party of Texas State Convention. Rinaldi’s appointments include several individuals with close ties to Dunn and Wilks’ political network

Tom Glass, who has unsuccessfully run for State Representative twice with the support of Political Action Committees funded by Dunn and Wilks, was appointed by Rinaldi to Chair the Congressional District 10 caucus.

Rinaldi tapped Micah Dunn, Tim Dunn’s daughter-in-law, as the chair of the Congressional District 11 caucus. 

Cary Cheshire, a political operative who has been a longtime fixture in Dunn and Wilks’ political network, was selected by Rinaldi as Chair of the Congressional District 12 caucus. Cheshire has long been a magnet for controversy, having been caught on tape making profanity-laced comments mocking Governor Greg Abbott’s disability in 2020. More recently, Cheshire was responsible for mock Ramadan greetings cards sent to voters in Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan’s district at Christmastime. Cheshire’s mailer claimed that Phelan was “responsible for the most pro-Muslim session in the history of the Texas Legislature” and included the phrase “Allahu Akbar.”

Michelle Evans, the Political Director of Texans for Vaccine Choice, was appointed by Rinaldi as Chair of the Congressional District 17 caucus. Her colleague Rebecca Hardy, who is Texans for Vaccine Choice’s President, was picked by Rinaldi to Chair the Congressional District 24 caucus.

Rinaldi chose Brady Gray, President of the Texas Family Project, to Chair the Congressional District 25 caucus. The Texas Family Project was active in the recent Republican primary elections, sending mailers falsely accusing certain pro-family lawmakers of supporting the gender modification of children. Conservative leaders also denounced Gray’s organization after it sent mailers during the Primary that falsely alleged that targeted Republican lawmakers supported Sharia law.

Brandon Waltens, Texas Scorecard’s Senior Editor, was selected by Rinaldi as the Congressional District 31 caucus Chair. 

Shilo Platts, the Beaumont Area Director for the True Texas Project, was tasked by Rinaldi as Chair of the Congressional District 36 caucus. Last year, Platts had announced his intent to challenge Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan in the Republican Primary. However, Platts ended his campaign less than 24 hours after The Texas Voice and Current Revoltreported on personal controversies involving him. 

Before moving to Texas, Platts was denied a license by the Utah State Insurance Department because he failed “to meet the character requirements for licensing.” The Texas Voice also discovered that small business owners in the vaping industry had accused Platts of being a “scammer” who engaged in unethical business practices. It was also discovered that Platts had “liked” numerous pornographic images on Twitter. In a statement, Platts acknowledged having “liked” the sexually graphic content. 

After abandoning his campaign for State Representative, Platts sought election to a precinct chair position within the Jefferson County Republican Party. Platts was soundly defeated in his election, losing to his opponent by a 49-point margin.  

Multiple organizations within Dunn and Wilks’ political network are listed as sponsors of the Republican Party of Texas State Convention. These groups include Texas Scorecard, Abolish Abortion Texas, Texas Gun Rights, and the Texas Family Project. Wilks Development, a real estate development company run by members of the Wilks Family, is also listed as a convention sponsor. 

Representatives from Texas Scorecard, Texas Family Project, and Texas Gun Rights, along with representatives from Texans for Vaccine Choice, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, and Texans for Strong Borders, were featured at a donor retreat hosted by Tim Dunn last year. Dunn’s donor retreat also featured disgraced State Representative Bryan Slaton, who was expelled from the Texas House several weeks after the retreat after it was discovered that he had supplied alcohol at his apartment to a 19-year-old intern who worked in his office and then took her virginity. 

Abolish Abortion Texas has a record of opposing priority pro-life legislation that the Republican Party of Texas has supported. During the 2021 legislative session, Abolish Abortion Texas opposed the Texas Heartbeat Act and House Bill 1280– commonly known as the abortion “trigger bill”- which banned abortion in Texas upon the reversal of Roe v. Wade. 

Like the Texas Family Project and other organizations within Dunn and Wilks’ political network, Texas Gun Rights has a history of making false attacks against Republican leaders. During the last legislative session, Texas Gun Rights disseminated an image of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick physically embracing President Joe Biden with the text “Why is Lt. Governor Dan Patrick Embracing Joe Biden’s Gun Control Agenda?”

Texas Gun Rights is the Texas affiliate of the National Association for Gun Rights. Dudley Brown, the President of the National Association for Gun Rights, has made numerous comments disparaging Donald Trump and declared earlier this year that he has “never voted for Trump and never will.”

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