High-Profile Republicans Set To Appear Alongside Left-Wing Activists At Dark Money-Backed Media Festival

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Henry Rodgers Chief National Correspondent
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A number of high-profile Republicans are scheduled to appear alongside left-wing activists at a media event for the Texas Tribune, a non-profit media outlet that receives millions of dollars from left-wing dark money groups.

Several of the Republicans told the Daily Caller they were attending the event to stand up for conservative beliefs against those with different viewpoints. Others did not respond to inquiries about why they are speaking at the event.

Republicans attending include Texas Reps. Dan Crenshaw, Tony Gonzales, and Michael McCaul, former Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, former Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, political consultant Karl Rove, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.

These Republicans will appear at the festival with Democratic election denier Stacey Abrams, Democratic Texas Rep. Colin Allred, who is running against Ted Cruz for Senate, Democratic Texas Rep. Jasmine Crockett, Democratic Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, Democratic Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman, former Democratic North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, the Director of Communications for the Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential campaign Jennifer Palmieri, far-left activist Kara Swisher and Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

The Texas Tribune has received millions of dollars from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and liberal dark money groups such as Arnold Ventures and the Hopewell Fund. Melinda Gates made her first presidential endorsement Thursday, saying: “this year’s election stands to be so enormously consequential for women and families that, this time, I can’t stay quiet,” before saying she will be supporting Biden.

“This is not an entity that it gives money to outside its own cells. This is something it creates again, the Hopewell fund, both channels money onto other lefty nonprofits, but also pops into existence groups that are really just, you know, internal to itself, right?” Scott Walter, president of Capital Research Center, told the Caller.

“Any conservative or Republican should understand that this is very much a left-wing and, you know, overall partisan thing. There’s a reason those left-wing donors, the Arnolds and Ford and Hopewell, there’s a reason they give money to this, and it’s to help the left, and anybody who goes should be very clear-eyed about that.”

The Ford Foundation, which donated seven figures to the Tribune, has reportedly sent millions of dollars to organizations that have celebrated the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel. (RELATED: Major Liberal Foundation Trots Out A Doozy: Attacks On DEI Are ‘Anti-Capitalist’)

The outlet has also slanted coverage against conservatives on various issues, including headlines like “Texas’ standoff with the feds in Eagle Pass is igniting calls for secession and fears of violence,” “Extremists have turned Texas into a hotbed for hate, report finds,” “Conservative Christians want more religion in public life. Texas lawmakers are listening,” and “How Texas activists turned drag events into fodder for outrage.”

The Tribune has also partnered with ProPublica, another news non-profit which published a series of critical reporting on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ personal life that was used by left-wing activists to delegitimize the conservative majority on the court.

Robert Stilson, a senior research analyst for the Capital Research Center, told the Caller that although The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit that is legally required to be nonpartisan, that does not mean they are “unbiased.”

“The Texas Tribune is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Speaking generally about 501(c)(3)s, I do not think it is deceptive to characterize them as nonpartisan. They are legally required to be nonpartisan. That said, “nonpartisan” does not mean “unbiased,” and 501(c)(3)s regularly approach their work with an ideological — or even what I’d personally call a political — slant.” Stilson said.

“The Hopewell Fund is part of the massive Arabella Advisors “dark money” nonprofit network, which is itself the most important left-of-center political funding network in the country,” he added.

Despite all of this, Republicans tell the Caller they still look forward to attending and speaking at the Tribune event.

“I like calling out left-wing election deniers like Stacey Abrams (in fact I think at a previous TribFest I called out Representatives James Clyburn and John Lewis for being election deniers in 2004) and I’ll welcome the opportunity to defend Justice Thomas (and Alito) just as I defended Bret Kavanaugh at one of these events in the past,” Rove told the Caller.

Crenshaw’s office said the Congressman views this appearance like he would talking to the liberal media, and that he looks forward to standing up for conservatism at the event.

“Dan views these events just like he views appearances on CNN, MSNBC, Bill Maher, The Daily Show, etc. – a place to make an argument about conservatism to an audience that usually does not hear those arguments. One of Dan’s most viral interviews was on Bill Maher in 2020, when Dan fiercely defended President Trump’s response to the pandemic,” his office said.

“That is why Dan participates in interviews with liberal outlets and it’s why he’s participating in the Texas Tribune Festival – to offer conservative pushback in places that are often void of them … If conservatives like Dan did not participate in interviews and events like this, then members of the hard-left would completely control the narrative without any conservative viewpoints being offered.”

Stitt’s office explained that the Governor will be a common sense, conservative voice at the event.

“We’re looking forward to having Governor Stitt be a common sense, conservative voice that Americans from all walks of life can identify with at this event. I’d love to see a Daily Caller event like this in the future and we’d make sure Governor Stitt was there with bells on!,” Stitt’s office told the Caller.

McCaul said he plans on focusing on foreign policy during the event and took a shot at President Joe Biden.

“President Biden’s failure to display strength on the world stage has only emboldened our adversaries. Russia, China, and Iran are all connected in their efforts to destroy freedom and democracy. Weakness invites aggression and our adversaries see that, which is why I will be speaking at the Texas Tribune Festival. I want to provide Texans with a different vision of sound foreign policy decisions and remind them what a strong America looks like under Republican leadership,” McCaul told the Caller.

Meanwhile, Gonzales’s office said the Texas Republican will not be attending the event this year, despite the fact he is listed as a speaker for the event. They then changed their answer when the Caller asked why he was listed as a speaker if he is not attending.

“Rep. Gonzales is not attending this year,” Gonzales’s office initially told the Caller.

The Texas Tribune responded to an inquiry about Gonzales’s appearance saying: “Please know we are looking into this matter and someone with our programming team will be in touch with you ASAP.”

Gonzales’s chief of staff then told the Caller one day later: “I can confirm Tony plans on attending” and did not answer any additional questions.

The festival is slated to take place Sept. 5-7 in Austin.


Brandy Perez contributed to this report.