The Republican Party of Texas and its Chairman, Matt Rinaldi, have recently faced criticism for spending just $10,000 (excluding candidate “pass through” funds) to defeat Democrats running for the Texas House of Representatives during the 2022 election and using Party funds to attack Republican officeholders who have successfully passed major conservative legislation.
In response to these criticisms, Rinaldi and the Texas GOP have claimed that the Republican Party of Texas spent over $6 million during the 2022 election to assist Republican candidates. On social media, The Texas GOP has shared a copy of a slide presented at the December 2022 meeting of the State Republican Executive Committee listing Republican candidates it supported, as well as claiming to have spent approximately $6,325,000 on a “exempt mail, victory, and [get out the vote] program” for the 2022 election.
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However, a review of campaign finance reports filed by the Republican Party of Texas with the Texas Ethics Commission and Federal Election Commission shows that the Texas GOP received nearly $3.3 million from the very candidates that the Party claims to have assisted and received more than $2.4 million more from national Republican committees.
It is a common practice for candidates to make “pass-through” contributions to the State Party, where the Party uses the funds received from the candidate to send direct mail on the candidate’s behalf at cost that is lower than the candidate could otherwise obtain.
In the Rio Grande Valley and South Texas region, the Texas GOP lists 7 candidates that it claims to have supported during the 2022 election.
Dr. John Guerra, misidentified in the slide as Bobby Guerra, ran for Texas House District 41 in Hidalgo County. This is the only Texas House race where the Texas GOP directly supported a candidate financially outside of races where candidates made “pass-through” donations to the Party. Guerra received $10,000 from the Texas GOP on the last day of early voting.
Adam Hinojosa, who was narrowly defeated by Democrat Morgan LaMantia in State Senate District 27, received $20,000 from the Texas GOP for the election. The Texas GOP donated an additional $20,000 to Hinojosa after the election to assist with costs associated with a recount that was conducted.
The Texas GOP also supported Congressional candidates Cassy Garcia, Mayra Flores, Monica de la Cruz, and Tony Gonzales in the Rio Grande Valley/South Texas region. Gonzales donated $84,985.78 to the Republican Party of Texas, while the other Congressional candidates were in races targeted by the national Republican Party.
During 2022, the Republican Party of Texas received $1,116,395 from the Republican National Committee, $1,080,000 from the National Republican Congressional Committee, and $231,577.36 from Take Back the House 2022, a joint fundraising committee tied to US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Shortly before election day, McCarthy and Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel were featured speakers at a rally in McAllen supporting Garcia, Flores, and de la Cruz.
In the Dallas/Fort Worth area, the Republican Party of Texas identified 8 candidates that it supported, along with the Tarrant County Republican Party. All 8 of these candidates made contributions to the Texas GOP, totaling $2,254,556. Additionally, the Tarrant County Republican Party contributed $208,679.54 to the State Party.
In Harris and Fort Bend Counties, the Texas GOP identified 6 individual candidates that it supported, as well a slate of candidates running for the Tomball ISD school board, the Harris County Republican Party, and the Fort Bend County Republican Party.
Of these 6 individual candidates, 5 gave donations to the Republican Party of Texas totaling $304,559.25. The 6th candidate, Harris County Judge candidate Alex Mealer, received $40,000 in direct financial support from the Texas GOP and did not make any “pass-through” contributions to the Party. The Texas GOP also reported receiving $110,267.22 from the Fort Bend County Republican Party and $240,187.60 from the Harris County Republican Party.
While the Republican Party of Texas received the bulk of its funding during the 2022 election cycle from candidates and national Republican committees, the Party also reported large donations from sources that have supported fringe candidates and organizations that fought to kill pro-life legislation.
The Republican Party of Texas received $125,000 from the Defend Texas Liberty PAC in 2022. Defend Texas Liberty unsuccessfully opposed 20 incumbent members of the Texas House during the 2022 Republican primary, with all 20 of those incumbents winning their races.
Many of the candidates that received significant financial backing from Defend Texas Liberty during the 2022 Republican Primary were signatories to the “Texas First Pledge” published by the Texas Nationalist Movement PAC, which advocates for the secession of Texas from the United States of America. By signing the “Texas First Pledge”, legislative candidates agreed to file or co-author legislation to hold a referendum for Texas to secede from the United States.
In addition to signing the “Texas First Pledge”, Texas House candidates Andy Hopper (who received $55,000 from Defend Texas Liberty), and Tom Glass (who received $10,000 from Defend Texas Liberty) were signatories to a letter supporting Texas Nationalist Movement President Daniel Miller in his Republican primary challenge against Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.
Defend Texas Liberty also contributed $10,000 to Abolish Abortion Texas, an organization that opposed the pro-life “heartbeat” and “trigger” bills during the last legislative session. These bills, which became law despite opposition from Abolish Abortion Texas, are credited with banning abortion in Texas and have served as an established Texas as the nation’s leader in protecting the lives of the unborn.