Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report
Bexar County Democrats delayed a vote Tuesday to boycott the businesses of San Antonio-based donors of President Donald Trump.
The measure was proposed by the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio, an LGBTQIA group within the party, in light of a tweet by U.S. Rep. Joaquín Castro, twin brother of former San Antonio Mayor and Democratic candidate for president Julián Castro. In the tweet, Castro lamented that 44 San Antonio donors contributed the maximum individual donation amount to Trump’s campaign this year. Among the names in a list Castro attached to the tweet were Balous T. Miller, owner of Bill Miller Bar-B-Q, and Christopher “Kit” Goldsbury, who redeveloped a former brewery into The Pearl District.
But the measure was tabled at the Bexar Democrats’ County Executive Committee meeting on Tuesday after members voiced confusion over the effect of the resolution.
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, a Democrat, penned a letter ahead of the meeting urging the local party not to boycott Bill Miller Bar-B-Q, citing the organization’s employment of more than 5,000 San Antonians and philanthropic work. Wolff wrote it would be a huge mistake to boycott Bill Miller.
“A company should be judged by the services and products they provide and how they give back to the community, as well as how they treat their employees,” Wolff wrote. “Bill Miller has a stellar reputation: They give back to the community, treat their employees well and provide quality products and services to the community.”
The resolution called on Democrats to boycott Bill Miller and the Pearl District until Balous and Miller “renounce the hateful rhetoric of the President.”
“The recent racist comments by President Trump are fueling destructive hostility by right-wing domestic terrorists,” the resolution stated. “And … these successful business owners [who] have reaped the benefits of our community and have been entrusted to influence our economic future have betrayed us.”
A precinct chair made a motion to approve the resolution, but it failed to receive a second. The County Executive Committee voted in favor of a motion by Steven Price, deputy chair of Precinct 2, to table the item for further discussion.
After the meeting, Price said he saw the move as more of a political statement by the progressive Stonewall Democrats. He said he couldn’t speak for the entirety of the local Democrats but boycotting businesses based on their proprietors’ or leaders’ individual contributions to candidates seemed antithetical to the party’s beliefs.
“I would think that based on our Democratic principles that we are not going to cross that line,” Price said. “People have a choice to do whatever they want to do – to vote how they want to do and to contribute to any candidate.”
Miller and Goldsbury each have contributed the maximum of $5,600 in an election cycle to Trump. According to filings with the Federal Elections Commission and the Texas Ethics Commission, however, Miller contributed $200 to Democratic state Sen. Jose Menendez’s 2015 campaign, and he also supported the Congressional campaign of U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo). Goldsbury, meanwhile, has a record of supporting conservatives that dates back to 2000, according to FEC data.
A member of the Stonewall Democrats declined to comment on the resolution Tuesday and deferred to Monica Alcántara, who chairs the Bexar County Democratic Party.
Alcántara said after the meeting that the resolution was unclear, and she anticipated different language than what was proposed at the meeting. An agenda item listed an additional business – Valero, ostensibly because the former CEO of that company, Bill Greehey, has contributed to Trump’s campaign. However, Greehey now chairs oil and gas company NuStar Energy. Greehey and his business associations were left off of the resolution proposed at the meeting.
Greehey, who has backed mostly Republican campaigns since the 1990s in federal and state campaigns, has supported the campaigns of left-leaning City Council members in recent years, including Mayor Ron Nirenberg. Councilman Manny Pelaez (D8), who identifies as a Democrat but, like all members on the Council, has no formal party affiliation as a nonpartisan elected official, has also received contributions from Greehey. He told the Rivard Report via text he was disappointed to see the boycott effort and praised Greehey, Goldsbury, and Miller for their contributions to San Antonio.
Alcántara said the measure could be brought back up for consideration at next month’s County Executive Committee meeting, as is typically the case with items that are tabled. The party chairwoman, however, said she received numerous phone calls and emails opposing the boycott.
“All I can do as party chair is put it up for a vote,” she said.