Top leadership of the Republican Party of Texas continues to scramble in crisis mode amidst continued fallout from news that Nick Fuentes, a prominent internet live-streamer known for spewing white nationalist and antisemitic rhetoric, was recently hosted for meetings at the office of the political consulting firm Pale Horse Strategies.
The revelation of this meeting spurred a group of State Republican Executive Committee members- 22 members as of the publishing of this article- to sign onto a strongly worded statement denouncing former State Representative Jonathan Stickland, who owns Pale Horse Strategies and served as President of the Defend Texas Liberty PAC. According to sources, multiple Committee members allied with Rinaldi and Stickland were involved in efforts to pressure their colleagues on the Committee not to sign the statement.
The statement reads as follows:
“A Call for Accountability by Select State Republican Executive Committee Members
On October 8, 2023, it was revealed that Nick Fuentes – a notorious anti-Semitic antagonizer and Nazi sympathizer – had recently spent the day with Defend Texas Liberty (DTL) PAC representatives in a proximity of other affiliated political organizations. Whilst we continue to embrace freedom of association, it does not go unattended with consequences, the nature of which being the purpose of this statement.
Notwithstanding silence regarding any explanation from DTL or its leader – Jonathan Stickland – about why Fuentes was there and who was responsible for the visit or its purpose, it has now been reported that Jonathan Stickland has been replaced as of yesterday and likely to preempt this statement. If true, we see one responsible step taken by DTL.
It is difficult to fathom what legitimate business any reputable political organization would have with Fuentes. Even if intentions were benign, granting a meeting with such a noxious personality undeservedly elevates him and casts an undeserving bad light on patriots working in the same lanes as DTL, namely the Republican Party of Texas (RPT).
Additionally, Fuentes’ shockingly vile statements and views are totally contrary to the conservative principles of Stickland’s benefactors, his clients and the RPT, especially considering the RPT’s recent resolution of condemnation of Hamas and support of Israel.
Given DTL’s prominence in conservative politics and its past support of the RPT, we – the undersigned members of the State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) – believe there is a moral obligation to speak boldly, publicly, and clearly on this matter.
We appreciate that RPT Chair Matt Rinaldi has forcefully denounced Nick Fuentes and clarified that he was not aware of DTL’s meeting with Fuentes and had no interaction with him. But due to the consequences that languish from DTL’s silence, more must be done.
Antisemitism and racism do not have refuge in the RPT, including its associations or partners. Therefore, the RPT should not accept any donations from DTL until Stickland is removed and disassociated from DTL and its benefactor organizations and a full accounting of the meeting is provided. Further, we encourage donors to dissociate themselves from DTL and Stickland until these steps are taken and demonstratively verified.
Fuentes’ views and Stickland’s tactics are abhorrent and totally antithetical to the principles of the Republican Party of Texas and to the conservatives who have trusted DTL for the cause of liberty and patriotism. Whether this was caused by a lapse in judgement, conscious disregard, poor leadership, or a faulty moral compass – Stickland and DTL must ultimately accept responsibility.
Jonathan Stickland has forfeited his right to any leadership role in conservative politics and accordingly complete disassociation from DTL, including its benefactors and the RPT is the only reconcilable outcome which is now being formally called upon to accomplish instanter.”
Central to the concerns raised by the State Republican Executive Committee members in their statement is the increasingly close relationship between the Republican Party of Texas and its State Chairman, Matt Rinaldi, and Defend Texas Liberty, Pale Horse Strategies, and Stickland.
Since Rinaldi became Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas in July 2021, Defend Texas Liberty has become one of the largest donors to the Party. Defend Texas Liberty has contributed at least $257,500 to the Party since January 2022.
In March, Rinaldi told the website Current Revolt that he was not working on “anything” with Pale Horse Strategies any longer. However, that does not appear to be the case.
Just days after Current Revolt’s report, Rinaldi appeared at a donor retreat hosted by Defend Texas Liberty’s largest donor, Tim Dunn. The event also featured Stickland and representatives from several organizations tied to Pale Horse Strategies. Chris Russo, the President of Texans for Strong Borders- one of the organizations featured at the event- was seen driving Fuentes to Pale Horse Strategies’ office and accompanying Fuentes out of the building.
Rinaldi was also photographed by the Texas Tribune entering Pale Horse Strategies’ office while Fuentes was in the building. According to the Tribune’s report, Rinaldi was in the building for approximately 45 minutes. Rinaldi told the Tribune that he was borrowing a conference room and did not meet with Fuentes, whom he condemned.
The Republican Party of Texas has received at least $100,000 from Defend Texas Liberty since the time that Rinaldi told Current Revolt that he was no longer working with Pale Horse Strategies on “anything.”
In particular, there are concerns that the Republican Party of Texas has become dependent upon Defend Texas Liberty to remain financially solvent. In response to concerns raised by Republican data consultant and former Republican Party of Texas employee Derek Ryan in July about the Party’s financial condition, Stickland stated the Party “will have everything it needs.”
Shortly before the statement denouncing Stickland was publicly released, State Republican Executive Committee member Jill Glover sent an e-mail to her colleagues on the Committee stating that Stickland had been removed from his role as President of the Defend Texas Liberty PAC and expressed her opinion that the statement was moot.
Glover’s e-mail did not address Stickland’s role with Pale Horse Strategies or the network of organizations associated with the firm. Grassroots leaders raised questions on social media questioning whether Stickland’s alleged removal as President of Defend Texas Liberty was merely a meaningless gesture designed to deflect attention away from the meetings with Fuentes.
Adding fuel to this fire was a screenshot of a direct message exchange between political consultant and Texas Scorecard podcaster Luke Macias, who was said to have replaced Stickland as President of Defend Texas Liberty, and Michelle Smith, who works as an aide to Attorney General Ken Paxton.
According to the screenshot obtained and posted to Twitter by Current Revolt, Smith messaged Macias regarding the reports that Stickland had been removed as President of Defend Texas Liberty and inquired whether the report was accurate. Macias responded to Smith, stating that she should “ignore it” and “this is a nothing burger.”
Pale Horse Strategies also appears to be on a hiring spree, having five job openings currently posted on a conservative job board. Two of those job openings were posted last week.
The statement released by the State Republican Executive Committee members denouncing Stickland received attention from media members, who reached out to Committee members for comment. Although e-mail addresses for members of the State Republican Executive Committee had been posted on the Party’s website since at least 1999, the e-mail addresses mysteriously vanished from the website last week after reporters began contacting Committee members.
It has been reported that State Republican Executive Committee members were told that the e-mail addresses were removed because of phishing attempts. However, e-mail addresses for County Chairs, State Party staff, and the State Chair, Vice-Chair, and Secretary were not removed from the Party’s website.
Members of the Committee have questioned the veracity of this explanation. Houston-area Committee member Rolando Garcia posted on Twitter, “I’m now certain this was a clumsy attempt to muzzle the SREC. Even more appalling is how they are trying to silence us from publicly questioning why the e-mails were removed. Lies & bullying is no way to run a party. @TexasGOP”
In a follow-up post, Garcia stated, “This story isn’t going away, and as the cover-up falls apart and new facts about the meeting emerge, it will get even WORSE. If anything, the circle-the-wagons/muzzle SREC approach is backfiring as more sign on to the statement.”