Texas Oil Billionaires Start a Spinoff PAC

Tim Dunn and Farris Wilks replace Defend Texas Liberty

Oil money is finding a new liquid path to Texas candidates (Photo by Getty Images)

Being outed as white supremacists still has negative consequences in Texas, apparently. How else to explain the news on Wednesday that West Texas billionaires Tim Dunn and Farris Wilks have created a new political action campaign?

The Texas Tribune reports that Dunn and Wilks have dropped $2 million into the new PAC, known as Texans United for a Conservative Majority. Money from the PAC is already being distributed to challengers seeking to unseat House Republicans who voted to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton last year.

You will recall that until recently Dunn and Wilks had a perfectly functioning PAC for this kind of purpose called Defend Texas Liberty. But in October, Tribune reporter Robert Downen staked out the headquarters of Defend Texas Liberty and learned that its leader, Jonathan Stickland, had met for seven hours with Nick Fuentes, a fan of Adolf Hitler, a hater of Jews, and a denigrator of women. Stickland was demoted after Downen’s report on the meeting.

According to the Tribune, recent campaign finance reports show that since the Fuentes scandal Defend Texas Liberty has disbursed money to only one candidate. Meanwhile, Texans United for a Conservative Majority gifted $400,000 to primary challengers in the first three weeks of January, including $100,000 to David Covey challenging House Speaker Dade Phelan (who was a leader in the effort to impeach Paxton). Andy Hopper, who is running against Rep. Lynn Stucky (R-Denton), has also received $100,000.

Allies of Dunn and Wilks worked with Gov. Greg Abbott throughout 2023 to pass a school voucher bill to let parents take public school money to send their kids to private schools. The effort failed when rural Republicans, who don’t have easy access to private schools, joined Democrats to vote the proposal down. Since the defeat, Abbott has promised to fund primary challengers to take on the Republicans who killed vouchers. On Jan. 16, he received what his campaign referred to as the “largest single donation in Texas history” – $6 million from Jeff Yass, a Pennsylvania billionaire and voucher supporter. Abbott is expected to use the money to drive out the Republicans who voted against vouchers last year.

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