The leader of an influential conservative political action committee in Texas is being denounced for reportedly meeting with white nationalist Nick Fuentes.
Last year, former President Donald Trump came under fire for dining with Fuentes and rapper Kanye West, who has also been accused of antisemitism. West said that Trump was “really impressed” by Fuentes during the encounter, although the former president later insisted that he “didn’t know” the white nationalist.
Fuentes said in a video in August that he had decided to “forget the Constitution” and instead “swear allegiance to Donald Trump.”
Jonathan Stickland, a former Republican state lawmaker who serves as president of the Defend Texas Liberty PAC, hosted a meeting over the weekend with Fuentes at the headquarters of a Forth Worth consultancy firm that he owns, according to the Texas Tribune.
Fuentes, who has advocated for “a homeland” for white people and denies the reality of the Holocaust, was reportedly photographed on Sunday morning entering the headquarters of Strickland’s Pale Horse Strategies and remained inside the building for more than six hours.
Kyle Rittenhouse, a favorite in far-right circles since he was acquitted of homicide charges after fatally shooting two Black Lives Matter protesters in 2020, also reportedly attended the meeting.
Republican Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan on Monday referenced the ongoing and volatile Israeli-Palestinian conflict while condemning Strickland’s meeting with Fuentes.
“Jonathan Stickland, the President of Defend Texas Liberty PAC, fraternized for six hours with a notorious, anti-Semitic, nazi sympathizer who denies the existence of the Holocaust,” Phelan said in a statement shared on X, formerly Twitter.
“This [is] not just a casual misstep,” he added. “It’s indicative of the moral, political rot that has been festering in a certain segment of our party for far too long. Anti-Semitism, bigotry and Hitler apologists should find no sanctuary in the Republican party. Period.”
Newsweek reached out for comment to Defend Texas Liberty PAC over the phone on Monday.
Rittenhouse referred to Strickland as the “most conservative boss out there” while commenting on Strickland posting a photo of the two of them together to X in August.
Phelan’s statement on Monday went on to demand that GOP politicians who had taken money from Defend Texas Liberty PAC return their donations due to the association with Fuentes.
“There is no excuse to keep tainted funds from an organization that provides a platform for hatemongers, sexual predators, racists and nazi sympathizers,” said Phelan.
Phelan specifically condemned Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick for taking “$3 million from this organization” and the Texas Republican Party for receiving “$132,500 during this election cycle.”
Texas Republican Party Chair Matt Rinaldi was spotted entering and exiting Pale Horse Strategies during the time of Stickland’s purported meeting with Fuentes and Rittenhouse.
However, Rinaldi insisted that he was “just borrowing a conference room” in comments to the Texas Tribune. Rinaldi added: “I completely condemn [Fuentes] and everything he stands for. I would never in a million years meet with that guy.”
Patrick responded to Phelan’s statement by issuing a statement of his own a short time later, condemning Fuentes while accusing the state House speaker of engaging in a “political stunt” and calling for his resignation.
“I didn’t think even Dade Phelan would stoop this low. He has now absolutely hit rock bottom,” Patrick said. “Nick Fuentes and his antisemitic rhetoric have no place in the United States.”
“I am calling on Dade Phelan to resign his position before the House gavels in this afternoon,” he continued. “There is no place in Texas political discourse for any elected official to use the atrocities in Israel for their own political gain.”