At recent candidate forums for the 10 candidates vying for the Republican nomination in the Congressional District 11 race, several candidates have gone on the attack with varying allegations. The accusers have repeatedly alleged (without naming names) that two candidates in the race have received support from major Democrat backers such as billionaire and current Democrat presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
Details have emerged that two super political action committees—With Honors PAC and Fired Up PAC—share a connection and have acted as a conduit for funds from major political donors across the country to enter the West Texas race.
In addition to the candidates delivering the allegations, comments have flooded social media from activists and residents who have delved into the issue, searching for the answers.
After extensive research, Texas Scorecard has fact-checked the allegations regarding the outside influence on the race.
According to its website, the organization “With Honor” describes itself as a “cross-partisan” movement that is dedicated to advancing principled veteran leadership into public office.
The site goes on to explain that congressional deadlock and “partisan bickering” have plagued Congress and halted progress. In working towards less “polarization” in government, With Honors supports military members running for office who apparently commit to taking the PAC’s pledge in order to gain their financial backing.
The “pledge” that With Honors shows on their website is separated into three categories and begins by saying their candidates are men and women who are willing to put principles before politics.
The first two categories of the pledge are entitled “Integrity” and “Civility.” The third category, “Courage,” has provisions that have drawn concern among local Republican activists.
The “Courage” pledge requires the candidate to meet with a lawmaker from another party at least once a month—the other provision requires the candidate to “join with colleagues on both sides of the aisle on at least one piece of substantial legislation each year, and co-sponsor additional pieces.”
According to campaign finance reports and online sources, some of the original founding donors to With Honors include Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, who has given over $10 million, and former New York City Mayor and present Democrat presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg and his daughter have given over $250,000.
The list of contributors reads like a list of the nation’s wealthy, with numerous members of the Walton family of Walmart fame, and other notables giving sizable contributions to the organization.
Overall, the organization has split its support between Democrat and Republican candidates fairly evenly. Of the 44 candidates the PAC is shown to support in 2018, the partisan makeup was exactly 50-50.
Most notably, a number of lawmakers supported by the PAC seem to run counter to the organization’s stated mission by supporting powerful leadership figures who have never served in the military and haven’t exactly served as figures of civility.
Specifically, With Honors donated to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy—a move indicative of posturing for political access.
Since 2018, With Honors has spent roughly a million dollars in Texas congressional races, supporting a mixture of Democrat and Republican candidates for office in the Lone Star State. However, their entrance into the Texas political arena for the 2020 election cycle so far has mainly been the PAC’s support for Lt. Col. August Pfluger.
Records indicate With Honors has made over $200,000 in independent expenditures supporting the Pfluger campaign for Texas’ 11th Congressional District—and has given $2,500 in direct contributions.
Texas Scorecard reached out to the Pfluger campaign for comment, who issued this statement and said he did take the With Honors pledge:
“With Honor is a respected veterans’ group that is committed to strengthening our military and has supported some of the most conservative members in Congress, including Rep. Dan Crenshaw, Rep. Van Taylor, and Rep. Greg Steube of the House Freedom Caucus.
“I’ve always stated that I’m willing to work with any member of Congress who’s willing to work with me for the betterment of our country or to improve the lives of the people in my district. If there’s an opportunity to do that, then I’m willing to listen, but I refuse to compromise my own values or conservative principles for any reason, which is why I’ve been endorsed by President Donald Trump and conservative leaders across this district.”
Interestingly, further research relating to who runs the With Honors PAC revealed a correlation with funds pouring into the district from another Washington area-based PAC called “Fired Up PAC.”
Fired Up PAC has suddenly emerged in the race with a massive advertising purchase of over $150,000 in support of candidate Brandon Batch, who is one of Pfluger’s opponents in the Republican primary.
At the time of publication, no donation information was available to see who is financially backing Fired Up PAC.
Editor’s note: After publication, donor information became available from the Federal Elections Commission regarding who is funding “Fired Up PAC.” According to the financial reports, Fired UP PAC is nearly entirely funded by members of the Scharbauer family of Midland. Fired Up PAC appears to be funded entirely in-district and, so far, exclusively supports candidate Brandon Batch.