Tribpedia: Steve Munisteri

Steve Munisteri is the chairman of the Republican Party of Texas. He defeated sitting chair Cathie Adams for the two-year position in a runoff at the party's biennial convention on June 12, 2010.

Munisteri, a retired attorney and businessman from Houston, emerged from a three-way fight for the chairmanship in which the party's debt — $501,000, according to a May 2010 Federal Election Commission report — drew scrutiny from members, the other challenger and Munisteri himself.

Munisteri ran on a platform of "fixing the party's finances," suggesting a pay cut for the party's executive director, an end to third-party contracts with convention vendors, dedicated weekly time for the chair to call potential donors, and motivational events for Texas Republicans.

He accused the party of transferring about $60,000 between its accounts to make the debt appear lower ahead of the vote for a new chairman. Both Munisteri and fellow challenger Tom Mechler said the party was using convention registration fees, donations and sponsorships to make the debt look lower — charges Adams called "a lie that they are just totally making up out of thin air."

At the convention, Munisteri touted his credentials as a social conservative. On the heels of Arizona's passage of a controversial immigration law, he called the issue a federal one on which Washington had failed. "I think we have to be very careful to make a dichotomy between being against illegal immigration, yet not against Hispanics," he said. "I think that's a different issue, and we need to make sure that we are welcoming to Hispanics."

Munisteri started in politics as a teenage volunteer for the 1972 campaigns of Hank Grover and John Tower, according to his website.

Munisteri, 52, graduated from Memorial High School in Houston in 1976, from the University of Texas with a bachelor of business administration degree in finance in 1979 and from the University of Texas School of Law in 1981, according to his website.

He retired in 2008 from the Houston law firm Munisteri, Sprott, Rigby, Newsom & Robbins, P.C. He co-founded U.S. Scientific, a coal technology startup focused on "beneficiation," the process of separting a mined material into useful mineral and waste. He has been a partner in acquiring or drilling some 20 oil and gas wells. He has also managed professional boxers, according to his website.

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