In recent years, the political landscape in Texas has been shaped by the radical far-right associated with The Enterprise. These groups have been instrumental in advancing their preferred candidates and policies within the Republican Party. One of their latest tactics involves using a team of lawyers to lay the foundation and set a precedent for rejecting access to candidates who do not align with their agenda. This article will delve into the strategies employed by The Enterprise, shedding light on their motivations and the lawyers they have enlisted for this purpose.
The Enterprise's Objective: Controlling Ballot Access
The Enterprise, a political network with close ties to prominent figures like Attorney General Ken Paxton, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and Bryan Slaton aims to exercise greater control over the candidates who appear on the ballot. They believe that candidates selected by RPT Conventions or the State Republican Executive Committee will better serve their agenda. By shaping the rules governing ballot access, they hope to ensure that candidates aligned with their agenda have a higher chance of success.
The Lawyers Behind The Enterprise's Efforts
To carry out their plan, The Enterprise has assembled a team of lawyers with extensive experience in far-right racketeering. One of their key legal advisors is Chris Hilton, a former Deputy Attorney General for Ken Paxton. Hilton's involvement in Paxton's impeachment defense team demonstrates his loyalty to the The Enterprise. His legal expertise and knowledge of the inner workings of the Texas political system make him a valuable asset for The Enterprise.
Another lawyer working closely with The Enterprise is Jim Pikl, who represents Paxton in various legal matters. Pikl's law firm also includes Mitch Little, a partner who is not only involved in Paxton's defense but is also running as a Texas House candidate. This interconnected relationship emphasizes the close ties between The Enterprise, Paxton, and their legal representation.
The Precedent-Setting Strategy
The Enterprise's lawyers, Hilton and Pikl, are utilizing a two-pronged approach to establish a precedent for rejecting candidates' access to the ballot. Their strategy involves challenging the legitimacy of candidates who do not go through the RPT Conventions or the State Republican Executive Committee.
In a recent filing to the Texas Supreme Court, the RPT wrote the following:
Enforcing the Election Code’s signature requirements through mandamus directed to Chairman Rinaldi would violate the First Amendment. While the State has a legitimate interest in ensuring that candidates for statewide office enjoy statewide support, that interest in general must be balanced in each specific case against the Republican Party’s First Amendment associational rights to allow candidates to seek its endorsement as it sees fit.
Both this Court and the United States Supreme Court have recognized that the Republican Party of Texas enjoys a robust First Amendment right to select the candidates that shall bear its nomination. Brady v. Fourteenth Court of Appeals, 795 S.W.2d 712, 715 (Tex. 1990); Eu v. S.F. Cnty. Dem. Ctrl. Comm., 489 U.S. 214, 224-25 (1989). That First Amendment right protects the Republican Party’s prerogative to “identify the people who constitute the [Party]” as well as the ability to “select a standard bearer who best represents the [P]arty’s ideologies and preferences.” Eu, 489 U.S. at 224. “When a political party questions the constitutionality of state statutes regulating the party’s method of selecting a candidate, as applied to a particular office or candidate, the courts must employ a balancing test,” Brady, 795 S.W. at 715, which “weighs the burden on the . . . party against the compelling state interest the state must advance to justify the burdens.” Id. Mandamus against Chairman Rinaldi here would impose an unconstitutionally heavy burden on the Republican Party’s associational rights.
Challenging Primary Election Results
One aspect of this strategy involves challenging the results of primary elections. By questioning the validity of these elections, The Enterprise aims to cast doubt on the legitimacy of candidates who emerge from these processes. This tactic is intended to pave the way for candidates chosen by RPT Conventions or the State Republican Executive Committee to take precedence.
Advocating for Party Control
The Enterprise's lawyers are also actively advocating for greater party control over the candidate selection process. They argue that RPT Conventions and the State Republican Executive Committee are better equipped to evaluate candidates' alignment with their far-right agenda. By emphasizing the importance of party control, The Enterprise seeks to marginalize candidates who do not bend to their insidious intentions.
Matt Rinaldi: Texas GOP Chair Wants to Consolidate His Power
Texas GOP Chair Matt Rinaldi, a surrogate for The Enterprise, has been an ardent supporter of The Enterprise's efforts to control ballot access. Rinaldi has been vocal about his intention to reshape the candidate selection process to prioritize candidates chosen by RPT Conventions or the State Republican Executive Committee.
Controversial Remarks and Questionable Associations
The legal maneuvers of The Enterprise have garnered minimal attention so far, but some of their affiliated figures have made contentious statements and maintained questionable connections. Jim Pikl, one of the lawyers involved, recently criticized members of the Texas GOP for wanting to condemn anti-Semitism. He also defended the Defend Texas Liberty PAC, which met with notorious anti-Semite Nick Fuentes at a recent RPT SREC meeting:
The Enterprise, in collaboration with lawyers like Chris Hilton and Jim Pikl, is actively working to reshape the candidate selection process in Texas. Their objective is to establish a precedent for rejecting candidates who do not align with their agenda. By challenging primary election results and advocating for greater party control, The Enterprise aims to ensure that candidates chosen by RPT Conventions or the State Republican Executive Committee are the only ones appearing on the ballot.
Connecting more dots within
Paxton's Lawyers Fail To Stop Their Depositions
In the ongoing legal proceedings related to the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton case, several lawyers in his office have been deposed. The most prominent among them are:
- Ken Paxton - Attorney General of Texas
- Brent Webster - First Assistant Attorney General
- Lesley French Henneke - Chief of Staff
- Michelle Smith - Paxton's longtime political aide
Lesley French Henneke is married to Rob Henneke who serves as the Executive Director and General Counsel at the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF). Tim Dunn, the Vice Chairman of TPPF is a prominent financier of The Enterprise.
Doug Deason, who is a board member of Turning Point USA, also serves on the board of TPPF.
From our report November 15, 2023:
Owens' long-standing relationship with Wilks, a key funder of The Enterprise, is noteworthy. She was one of the first major hires for Wilks-funded Prager U and was among the few programs that transitioned to The DailyWire when the two entities merged.
Kirk's ties to The Enterprise also exist. He has close connections with Doug Deason, who serves on the board of Turning Points USA. Deason, like Tim Dunn a key funder of The Enterprise, also serves on the board of the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
These depositions are part of the whistleblower lawsuit filed by four former employees of the Texas Attorney General's office. The lawsuit alleges that the employees were wrongfully terminated after they accused Paxton of engaging in illegal activities. The depositions will require sworn testimony from Paxton and his top aides regarding the termination of his former top aides.
Pale Horse Strategies Rebrands as "West Fort Worth Management LLC"
A well-known consulting firm for far-right candidates and groups has changed its name two months after its leader was discovered to have connections with white supremacist, Nick Fuentes, in a meeting reported by the Texas Tribune in October 2023.
According to a filing dated November 13 with the Texas Secretary of State, an attorney representing Pale Horse Strategies LLC stated that the company will also operate under the name "West Fort Worth Management LLC" in the future. The attorney, from Pale Horse Strategies LLC, made this statement in a filing with the Texas Secretary of State on November 13.
The company is possessed by ex-state Representative Jonathan Stickland, and is actively engaged in far-right politics in Texas. The document was prepared by Tony McDonald, The Enterprise's Roy Cohn.
The company, Pale Horse Strategies, has utilized their recent name change to attract applicants for job opportunities on a website aimed towards right-wing organizations. They have advertised for positions such as copywriter and event coordinator. Initially, the job description included the name "Pale Horse Strategies" and encouraged interested individuals to apply for the position at PHS. However, after the Tribune exposed their new name and job posting, all references to Pale Horse Strategies were removed on Thursday afternoon
The new Chief Operations Officer is Tim Hardin, who was previously with Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, another extremity of The Enterprise. Per-usual The Enterprise is going back to their natural habit of playing musical chairs with their acolytes, as Scorecard Confessions revealed in May 2023:
One of the most striking observations in the Texas Scorecard ecosystem is the frequent movement of the same set of staff members.
The prevalent nepotism among the staff members within the Texas Scorecard ecosystem serves to reinforce the alleged roles each organization played to cover up Bryan Slaton's actions.
The constant movement of the same individuals within this network suggests a closely-knit group with shared interests and loyalties. This tight-knit circle not only enables the exchange of crucial information but also creates an environment where the misconduct of one member can be easily shielded and concealed by others.
The Enterprise Is A One-Trick Pony
This name change is the usual strategy within The Enterprise whenever they're caught red-handed doing awful things. Empower Texans, a far-right political organization in Texas, underwent a significant change by rebranding itself as Defend Texas Liberty PAC, after two staffers for the political organization Empower Texans, Cary Cheshire and their legal counsel Tony McDonald, were caught on an audio recording mocking Texas Governor Greg Abbott's disability in June 2020. The incident occurred during an unedited version of the group's podcast, Texas Scorecard Radio.
The recording, which was published online, contained profanity and jokes Abbott's use of a wheelchair. The two staffers were subsequently suspended from the organization, and Empower Texans issued an apology for their actions.
History of Violence Follows Consultants for The Enterprise
One of Ken Paxton's top consultants, Jeff Roe, who heads the GOP firm Axiom and was recently caught mismanaging Ron DeSantis' presidential PAC and is facing lawsuits for various types of fraud, has a history of launching anti-Semitic attacks that once led to a suicide.
Was Missouri Elected Official Pushed To Suicide by Ted Cruz and Ken Paxton's Top Consultant?
Jeff Roe has been linked to the tragic suicide of Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich in 2015. While the exact reasons behind Schweich's decision to take his own life remain unclear, some have pointed to the negative campaign tactics employed by Roe and his team as a contributing factor.
Roe was working for the gubernatorial campaign of Catherine Hanaway, a rival of Schweich's in the Republican primary. In the months leading up to Schweich's suicide, a radio was aired that mocked Schweich's appearance and questioned his ability to serve as governor. The ad, which featured a voice imitating the character Frank Underwood from the TV show "House of Cards," was widely criticized for its negative tone and personal attacks.
After Schweich's death, there were allegations that Roe and his team had engaged in anti-Semitic attacks against Schweich, who was of Jewish descent.
Roe's Steps Down After Exposé Highlighting His Incompetence Leading Ron DeSantis Presidential PAC
Roe was recently embroiled in controversy over his role as the chief strategist for Never Back Down, a Super PAC supporting Florida Governor Ron DeSantis's presidential campaign. Roe resigned from his position on December 17, 2023, after allegations of mismanagement and false information emerged.
The Washington Post reported on internal disputes and suspicions between Never Back Down, the DeSantis campaign, and other DeSantis allies. The accusations included "mismanagement and conduct issues, including numerous unauthorized leaks containing false information." In response to these allegations, Roe stated that he "cannot in good conscience stay affiliated with Never Back Down given the statements" and that the information in the article was false.
Roe's Axiom Is Bad At What They Do
While Axiom Strategies has been involved in numerous high-profile races and boasts a large number of clients, their win-loss record in recent years has been less than stellar. In the 2022 cycle, only 30% of the 54 congressional candidates who reported paying Axiom in their filings with the Federal Election Commission won their races.
From Raw Story:
In 2022, about 30 percent of the 54 congressional candidates who reported paying Axiom in filings with the Federal Election Commission won their races, according to a Washington Post analysis," the report states. "Several of those candidates were dropped by Axiom as clients. Those who lost included high-profile Senate candidates such as Adam Laxalt in Nevada, Jim Lamon in Arizona, Josh Mandel in Ohio and David McCormick in Pennsylvania. Axiom worked on the winning Senate race of Eric Schmitt in Missouri."
What's peculiar, given Axiom Strategies record of failure, is that the firm has been expanding aggressively and diversifying its services. In 2021, the firm acquired several new partner firms and added 30 new employees.
Roe's firm appears to be yet another grifting operation, milking clients for every penny they can and spending on lavish lifestyle while campaigning.
Roe's Vanguard Field Strategies Being Sued for Fraud
One of Jeff Roe's firms, Vanguard Field Strategies LLC, is currently facing a lawsuit for alleged fraud and breach of contract. The lawsuit, filed by the Community Schools Initiative in Nevada, claims that Vanguard failed to gather enough valid signatures for a ballot initiative to break up the Clark County School District. The lawsuit also alleges that Roe and his companies engaged in a "bait-and-switch scam" and illegally created "faux" and "shell" companies to avoid personal liability.
From Las Vegas Review Journal:
The lawsuit also alleges that after the secretary of state’s results were released, the initiative’s backers were told by Vanguard Vice President of Sales Scott Scheid that he would “make it right” and agreed to collect signatures again in two years for free. Scheid allegedly said he would “take care” of getting the PAC a refund, but that the company later refused to do so.
Scheid declined to comment when reached Friday afternoon.
Allegations made against Vanguard in the lawsuit include breach of contract, fraudulent misrepresentation/fraud, negligent misrepresentation, deceptive trade practices and “breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.”
The lawsuit alleges damages as the result of the botched signature gathering exceed the $2.2 million the initiative’s backers paid for the failed signature-gathering effort, as well as legal fees.
Axiom's Role in Ken Paxton's Impeachment Defense
From Texas Monthly:
Paxton’s political consultants from Axiom, were meeting almost nightly with Buzbee and other defense lawyers to decide which themes to push during the trial. That is, which themes would best make far-right activists and voters livid enough to keep badgering their senators. By then, the pressure had intensified on anyone who might be considered a weak link in Paxton’s chain. The former Trump strategist Steve Bannon was beating the acquittal tom-toms on his War Room podcast, singling out several senators who may have been tempted to convict Paxton: “We’re gonna make all these six famous in the days ahead,” Bannon raged.
From The New York Times:
During the trial, Mr. Paxton’s lawyers were not shy about highlighting those political dynamics. It was, Mr. Maddux said, part of a strategy to speak beyond just the courtroom of the Senate to the party’s primary voters, many of whom expressed increasing outrage as the proceedings progressed.
Maddox is a partner at Jeff Roe's Axiom Strategies.
Here are a few of Axiom's clients in Texas:
|REPUBLICAN PARTY OF TEXAS
|HUFFINES, PHILLIP WAYNE (MR.)
|BUCKINGHAM M.D., DAWN C. (THE HONORABLE)
|TEXANS FOR EDUCATIONAL FREEDOM
|HUFFINES, DONALD B. (MR.)
|MCNUTT, THOMAS M.N. (MR.)
|PATRIOT MOBILE ACTION
|PAXTON JR., W. KENNETH (THE HONORABLE)
|BIUS, WALTER B. (MR.)
|SPITZER M.D., STUART K. (MR.)
|SCHATZLINE, NATHANIEL (THE HONORABLE)
|STICKLAND, JONATHAN S. (THE HONORABLE)
|EMPOWER TEXANS PAC (DISSOLVED)
|MONEY, BRENT A. (MR.)
|TEXANS FOR THE FUTURE PAC (DISSOLVED)
|HUFFINES, DONALD B. (MR.)
|STICKLAND, JONATHAN S. (THE HONORABLE)
|SPITZER M.D., STUART K. (MR.)
|MCNUTT, THOMAS M.N. (MR.)
|EMPOWER TEXANS PAC (DISSOLVED)
|HUFFINES, PHILLIP WAYNE (MR.)
|TEXAS RIGHT TO LIFE PAC
|GREEN JR., RICHARD A. (MR.)
|FIELDS JR., JESS A. (MR.)
Together, these two firms have generated an estimated $4,000,000 in revenue through their affiliation with The Enterprise.
For the shared clients who were candidates, the following table shows their performance:
Combined, these firms have a fail rate of 72%, which is even higher than Axiom's 70% fail rate identified in the Raw Story article.
The Enterprise: A Tangled Web of Influence and Secrecy in Texas Politics
Beneath the sunbaked plains of Texas lies a web of political influence more intricate than a spider's masterpiece: The Enterprise. This network, far from a lone cactus in the desert, stretches and contorts, its tendrils reaching into the offices of state officials, far-right media outlets, and even seemingly independent consulting firms.
At the heart of the web sits Ken Paxton, Texas' embattled Attorney General. His legal woes, including depositions of key aides in this week's whistleblower lawsuit, cast a long shadow over The Enterprise. But Paxton is just one face in a gallery of powerful figures. Jonathan Stickland, a firebrand former state representative, navigates the landscape with the agility of a political chameleon. Doug Deason, a wealthy financier, injects millions into the network, a silent puppeteer in the wings.
But the shadows aren't enough to conceal the financial ties that bind these players together. Jeff Roe's Axiom and Luke Macias, a top advisor within The Enterprise, share millions in earnings from affiliates, a lucrative reward for their political maneuvering. Yet, their campaigns boast a dismal 72% failure rate, suggesting a strategy focused on ideological advancement rather than electoral victories.
This isn't just about political gamesmanship, however. The Enterprise's web extends into the very fabric of Texas democracy. Concerns loom about voter suppression tactics and the silencing of dissenting voices. The recent rebranding of Pale Horse Strategies, a consulting firm with alleged ties to white supremacists, only amplifies these fears.