Recent reports reveal House Speaker Dade Phelan’s largest donor to date in 2024 is a D.C.-based PAC that may be misleading donors and spending to empower Democrats.

The Republican State Legislative Committee donated $750,000 to Phelan on February 2, 2024, a sum that dwarfs the $200,000 that the Casino Lobby Sands donated the following week.

But is that money stopping with Phelan, or is it being funneled to others?

Phelan (R-Beaumont)—whose two terms as Speaker of the House have been marred by embarrassment, failure, and a formal censure from the Republican Party—finds himself in a fight for his political life.

His record, notwithstanding being the Speaker of the House, comes with perks, including receiving massive campaign contributions. Money given to Phelan is given for a reason—the speaker can kill or advance causes in the Texas House.

This is partly down to the individuals the speaker empowers with committee assignments and cash. The latest reporting period saw Phelan shell out $2.25 million to colleagues or committees supporting Phelan-aligned incumbents.

According to a review of the RSLC website, the organization says it is focused on electing Republicans to office. In messaging, both for soliciting funds and announcing the group’s objectives, RSLC mentions Democrats as the opposition, not other Republicans.

Could the PAC be misleading its donors? In the case of supporting a Republican Speaker of the House who has defended the practice of empowering Democrats, it may be.

RSLC added two Texans, ignominious in conservative circles, to the group’s board of directors in April of 2023: former Speaker of the House Joe Straus and Karl Rove. In 2023, Rove publicly advocated for the impeachment of Attorney General Ken Paxton; Straus, in 2024, spent time publicly supporting Nikki Haley’s presidential campaign.

Dade Phelan currently serves on the group’s Legislative Campaign Committee. It is unclear if the RSLC knows the Texas Republican Party censured Phelan or that he has, in contradiction to the party platform, refused to stop appointing Democrats to chair committees.

The cash from RSLC, in addition to aiding Phelan in his effort to stave off electoral defeat, allows Phelan to distribute funds to other candidates.

In a January press release, RSLC stated that it had a clear mission: safeguard majorities against an onslaught of liberal spending from the far left. It’s unclear how giving a combined $1.5 million to Phelan and the Associated Republicans of Texas, who each, in turn, have spent money in Republican Party primaries, serves the RSLC’s “clear mission.”

RSLC did not respond to a series of questions before publication.

Brandon Waltens

Brandon serves as the Senior Editor for Texas Scorecard. After managing successful campaigns for top conservative legislators and serving as a Chief of Staff in the Texas Capitol, Brandon moved outside the dome in order to shine a spotlight on conservative victories and establishment corruption in Austin. @bwaltens