Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller weighed in on the 13th Congressional District race to replace U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) again over the weekend, blasting candidate and former lobbyist Josh Winegarner and his employer for taking tax dollars through a federal loan program while funding a super PAC for Winegarner.

“Josh Winegarner and the Texas Cattle Feeders Association took advantage of the system and scammed the American taxpayer and hardworking Texans out of hundreds of thousands of dollars during a time of economic turmoil,” Miller said.

In his statement, Miller called on the TCFA to return the entirety of its Paycheck Protection Program loan, disclosed at between $150,000-$300,000. PPP loans are intended to help small businesses keep workers employed during government-ordered shutdowns due to the Chinese coronavirus.

Miller’s main objection to the TCFA receiving the loan is that, while it sought the loan for paycheck protection purposes, it also donated nearly $60,000 to the Washington D.C. area-based Ag Together PAC, which has been the largest outside spender for Winegarner, according to reports.

“This is truly shameful,” said Miller. “Regular, everyday Texans are losing their jobs and struggling to put food on the table to feed their families, yet Josh Winegarner and his special-interest lobbyist friends are using our tax dollars to prop up his political campaign.”

Winegarner is an employee of the TCFA and has served as a lobbyist and government affairs director for the organization before holding his current position as industry affairs director.

This is not the first time this election cycle that the TCFA’s political activities have been placed under a microscope.

Winegarner’s Republican primary runoff opponent, retired Navy Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson, has repeatedly criticized Winegarner for the TCFA’s donations to Democrat lawmakers through its political committee, BEEF-PAC, while Winegarner was the organization’s government affairs director. Winegarner has denied responsibility for the donations.

Voters will decide this race on July 14.

Thomas Warren

Thomas Warren, III is the editor-in-chief of the Amarillo Pioneer newspaper in Amarillo, Texas.


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