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True Texas Project is a key part of a powerful political network that West Texas oil tycoons Tim Dunn and Farris Wilks have used to push their hardline opposition to immigration, LGBTQ+ rights, and public education on the state GOP and Legislature. Courtesy X

Multiple speakers and a venue pulled out of a prominent Texas activist group’s July conference after we revealed its plans to amplify white nationalist figures and rhetoric.

Billed as the 15th anniversary celebration for True Texas Project, a project funded by two right-wing Texas billionaires, conference organizers said there is a “war on white America” and urged attendees to embrace once-fringe ideologies such as Christian Nationalism and Great Replacement Theory, a conspiracy alleging an intentional, often Jewish-driven effort to destroy white people through immigration, interracial marriage, and the LGBTQ+ community.

Last week, we reported that the conference lineup featured Paul Gottfried, a far-right author who mentored neo-Nazi Richard Spencer, plus several other figures with ties to antisemites and extremists. Since then, at least three of the 12 listed speakers have said they will no longer partake in the event, two of whom said they were unaware of the themes and lineup when agreeing to participate.

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“I was unaware of the racialist themes of the conference and language of the other sessions related to it until the past couple of days,” said Todd Bensman, a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies. “I categorically reject [Great] Replacement Theory and never write or speak about it. I’m not interested in any of that stuff.”

Prominent GOP donor and former state Sen. Don Huffines, who was listed as a speaker, condemned the conference, saying it is a “dumb and inaccurate way to promote the Republican agenda” and that he was “never given a lineup of speakers or topics.”

The Texas Public Policy Foundation recently confirmed that Ammon Blair, a senior fellow who focuses on immigration, had also pulled out of the event.

The conference prompted a wave of condemnations this week. On X, Travis County GOP Chair Matt Mackowiak posted, “Every good and [decent] and honorable person associated with this event should back out. Right now. This moment.”

The convention invitation said the two-day event would be held at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. In a statement saying the event would not be held there, the garden added that it “rejects all forms of hate speech, discrimination, or bigotry,” but after a lawyer for True Texas Project went to the City of Fort Worth, which owns the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, city officials ordered the garden to reinstate the event and reverse its cancellation.

“WE WON!!!” posted True Texas Project founder Julie McCarty.

Botanic Garden CEO Patrick Newman has not replied to a request for comment.

McCarty previously blamed the backlash on “woke attacks” by the Tribune to “silence TTP and prevent us from advancing the grassroots movement across Texas.”

McCarty and True Texas Project have not responded to repeated requests for comment about the event since Friday.

True Texas Project is a key part of a powerful political network that West Texas oil tycoons Tim Dunn and Farris Wilks have used to push their hardline opposition to immigration, LGBTQ+ rights, and public education on the state GOP and Legislature. Dunn and Wilks are by far the biggest donors to the Republican Party of Texas and have used their influence to purge the party of more moderate lawmakers and survive a high-profile scandal last year over racists and antisemites employed by groups funded by the two.

Formerly known as the NE Tarrant Tea Party, True Texas Project was crucial in the rise of Texas’ ultraconservative movement throughout the 2010s. It rebranded after McCarty posted that she sympathized with the gunman who murdered 23 Hispanic people at an El Paso Walmart in 2019 — one of many mass shooters motivated by a belief in Great Replacement Theory.

“I don’t condone the actions, but I certainly understand where they came from,” she wrote.

Her husband Fred McCarty, who is also a True Texas Project leader, responded, “You’re not going to demographically replace a once proud, strong people without getting blowback.”

Those comments have not prevented the group from maintaining close relationships with prominent Republican elected officials, including Attorney General Ken Paxton, former Texas GOP Chair Matt Rinaldi, and a slate of current and presumptive lawmakers primarily funded by Dunn and Wilks.

In November, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said, “I know that the True Texas Project gets things done, and I need each and every one of you to continue to fight for the conservative principles we all stand for.”

The upcoming conference includes multiple sessions that extremism experts said were concerning because they advanced once-fringe claims about a “war on white America” or a Democratic effort to “rid the earth of the white race.”

The description for a session on “Multiculturalism & The War on White America” reads, “It’s absolutely vital we remember that when they say ‘white supremacy’ or ‘white nationalism’ or whatever the most recent scare phrase is, they literally just mean your heritage and historical way of life. It’s a culture war, simple as that. Stop apologizing. Stop backing down. Start fighting back.”

The agenda for the event also claims that “forced multiculturalism” and immigration are part of a global plot that has undermined American Christianity and that xenophobia is “an imaginary social pathology” and a term that has been used to discourage “love of one’s own people.” It also features a session that seeks to downplay the antisemitism and racism at the core of Great Replacement Theory.

 

Kayla Guo and Juan Salinas II contributed to this story.

 

A version of this story originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.

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