H-E-B CEO Criticized Over Anti-School Choice Donations

H-E-B store | Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Some Texas Republicans have denounced the CEO of a giant grocery store chain for funneling millions into supporting candidates who are against school choice.

The Republican conventions recently held in Brazoria, Harris, Trinity, and Tyler counties slammed H-E-B CEO Charles Butt in resolutions obtained by The Texan for wielding his estimated worth of $7.6 billion to support political action committees (PACs) looking to subvert several GOP aims such as instituting school choice practices and preventing children from exposure to LGBTQ content.

The resolutions approved at the conventions state, in part, “Charles Butt and his affiliated groups have lobbied against parents’ God-given rights and against empowering parents to choose the education that is best for their children,” as reported by The Texan.

As previously reported in The Dallas Express, the battle over school choice in Texas has shaped the political field this past year, especially among Republicans. An anti-school choice coalition of Democratic lawmakers and some Republicans in the lower chamber led to the school choice bill failing to pass despite Gov. Greg Abbott having advocated for the universal provision of education savings accounts (ESA) for over a year.

This battle has recently centered on fundraising efforts, with Abbott spending approximately $9.5 million of an estimated $38 million he has amassed in his two campaign accounts to support pro-voucher candidates in 20 Texas House races since January 1.

On the other side, the Charles Butt Public Education PAC has injected around $2.6 million into the campaigns of Texas House incumbents against school vouchers. While the Texas State Teachers Association also donated to these candidates, Butt’s PAC was the most significant contributor, an analysis from Austin American-Statesman showed.

This PAC’s work was not the only thing that was scrutinized during the Texas Republican Party conventions.

Butt has been a significant supporter of multiple Texas causes, including some that have been adversarial to the GOP platform. For instance, as covered by DX, H-E-B has supported various LBGTQ community initiatives specifically geared toward children, including a “Drag Queen Storytime.”

Another resolution from the conventions stated that “Charles Butt, through his business, H-E-B, has sponsored drag queen shows for children,” reported The Texan.

In Brazoria County, State Board of Education (SBOE) member Julie Pickren of District 7 publicly supported the resolution during the convention.

“The constituents of SBOE District 7 overwhelmingly support parents’ rights in education, which Butt’s Raise Your Hand Texas vehemently opposes,” Pickren said, noting that nearly all at the convention had voted in favor, according to The Texan. “Also, the radical Left and Butt’s support of drag queen story hours and drag queen shows for children does not align with the values of our district.”

Pickren was one of four members elected to the SBOE last year on a platform of fighting “woke” education and supporting Christian values.

Abbott recently announced that he had nearly enough votes to pass school choice in the following Texas Legislature, as covered by DX. However, a few Republican primary runoffs scheduled for May 28 could sway things.

“This is not a time for you to sit on the sidelines and applaud the success that we’ve achieved,” said Abbott, per The Austin American-Statesman. “This is a time when all of us must come together.”

The approved resolutions will now be submitted to the Republican Party of Texas, which will consider them at the state’s GOP convention set for May 23-25.

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