March 28, 2023

Steve Monacelli: Dallas Has A Problem With Zombie Astroturf Groups

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Journalist Steve Monacelli has been tracking several right-wing groups in Dallas, all of which have shadowy backgrounds and some of which are part of the push for school vouchers.

Save Texas Kids (STK) launched its Twitter account in July 2021. It didn’t take long for the group to make headlines. In September 2021, I reported that they’d encouraged Dallas teachers to snitch on their colleagues for teaching so-called “critical race theory” and “gender fluidity.” Carlos Turcios, a leader of STK, was previously employed by GoodBoy Public Relations, the company that first operated KDS. When I reported the group’s second leader was agitating at Dallas school board meetings despite not living in the district, the group stopped posting on social media.

Another group, Protect Texas Kids (PTK), picked up where STK left off. Public records show PTK was officially formed in April 2022, the same month that Save Texas Kids went defunct. PTK has been around the shortest amount of time, but has created the biggest splash. The organization’s founder, Kelly Neidert, is a self-described “Christian fascist” and a recent graduate from the University of North Texas, where she helped lead the Young Conservatives of Texas chapter alongside Moitz, a former leader of KDS.

PTK’s mission calls for the end of “woke” education. Its efforts focus on school board advocacy, seeking the ban of books they deem obscene (books that often feature and focus on the perspectives of non-White and LGTBQ+ people), and organizing protests of drag shows and LGTBQ+ events that regularly draw far-right, white supremacist, and even neo-Nazi groups. KDS has boosted PTK events on its social media accounts.

A drag show in Dallas was among the first events targeted for protest by PTK. And while the group has been active at events across the state, the majority of them have been in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth metro area.

Recently, Neidert identified herself as a member of the New Columbia Movement’s women’s cohort, an extreme Catholic traditionalist, “Christo-fascist” group that calls democracy a “failed experiment” and seeks to turn the U.S. into a Christian theocracy, according to its manifesto.

While Neidert has not named her primary funders, she was captured on video at a True Texas Project event saying her group is a nonprofit that takes donations—but not “Soros money,” a comment that caused one of her supporters to chime in by saying that they don’t take “Jew money.”

It’s a complicated a twisty web, and it surely doesn’t lead back to concerned parents. Read the full story here. 

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