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Texas GOP Leaders Appear at the Border with Militia Group Under Investigation for Capitol Insurrection

AUSTIN, Texas–Prominent members of the Texas GOP participated in a rally at the border last week with far-right hate group founder and Capitol insurrectionist Steward Rhodes.

At a “We the People Stand for Border Security” rally on March 26 in Laredo, in which several prominent Texas Republicans participated, Republican Party of Texas Chair Allen West gave a fear-mongering speech at the border. Later, the microphone was passed to Stewart Rhodes, head of the far-right paramilitary the Oath Keepers, who announced that he might soon go to jail for his alleged involvement in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The GOP-filled rally in Laredo on March 26 hosted hours of speakers who claimed (contrary to expert opinion) that immigration was out of control under President Joe Biden. Among them were prominent Texas Republicans—and Rhodes, whose organization and several of its members are accused of playing a central role in the Capitol attack.

Rhodes’ acknowledgment that he might go to jail follows months of speculation that prosecutors are closing in on the Oath Keepers, and his presence on stage among prominent Texas Republican officials suggests a still-warm reception from the Republican Party to extremist groups that staged a coup against our democracy.

The rally in Laredo was advertised as being hosted by the groups Patriots at Large and Women Fighting for America.

That day, the region’s Webb County Republican Party wrote a Facebook post advertising both the official Texas GOP meeting and the “a great Patriotic Rally taking place on the banks of the Rio Grande until 6PM today.”

According to The Daily Beast, Rhodes’ name appears multiple times in court documents related to the Oath Keepers’ alleged actions. Chat logs included in a court filing state that Rhodes told Oath Keepers to bring heavy flashlights to the Capitol that could be “swung like clubs.” Other members messaged each other about murdering members of Congress.

 

Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa issued a statement:

“While everyday Texans face real issues, Texas Republicans are busy appearing with right-wing militia groups. The Republican Party of Texas isn’t even attempting to hide its allegiance with fringe groups like the Oath Keepers, which is tied to the January 6th U.S. Capitol insurrection that left six individuals dead. This hat tip to the insurrection is deeply insulting to Texans and to those who lost their lives two months ago.

“Republicans continue to play political games at the border, instead of solving the real issues that Texans face. We must demand answers from the Texas Republican Party: will they stand alongside insurrectionists or speak out against these efforts on behalf of the American people? Texans deserve better.”

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