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Lawmaker says he was "grossly misled" about white nationalist rally

State Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, said his office was "grossly misled" by a white nationalist group that wanted him to sponsor a rally at the Texas Capitol.

State Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, on the House floor on Jan. 11, 2017.

A state lawmaker says his office was "grossly misled" by a group of white nationalists that wanted to have a rally at the Texas Capitol.

State Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, said Monday that his office last month received a request from a man claiming to be a veteran with family from Schaefer's district, asking if the lawmaker could sponsor a rally Saturday at the Capitol in support of Gov. Greg Abbott's and President Donald Trump's policies. Schaefer, the leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, approved the request but said he immediately withdrew it when he learned the rally "involved participants who have a reputation for racist rhetoric." 

The rally, organized by a group called Tomorrow Belongs to Texas, was intended to "demonstrate how white identity is necessary to continue as a people and preserve Western culture," according to a news release. 

Earlier Monday, the Texas Democratic Party highlighted the rally, saying Schaefer "owes all Texans and the taxpayers who pay his salary an apology and complete explanation." Schaefer fired back at the party in a statement explaining the situation.

"The Texas Democratic Party press release is false on its face and is a despicable fundraising ploy on an issue where we actually have common ground," Schaefer said. "I guess Democrat party officials are more interested in political posturing, instead of standing together against hate speech."

It appears Schaefer was not the only one to have been duped by the group. Scholz Garten, a popular restaurant near the Capitol, suggested on Facebook that the same group misrepresented itself as a veterans group when it made short-notice accommodations for a Saturday party.

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Politics State government Matt Schaefer Texas Legislature