Texas House candidate McNutt under fire for connections to drug paraphernalia company

Originally published on the Quorum Report.

Immediately following revelations that undocumented workers have been employed at the Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana, where Texas House candidate Thomas McNutt is a vice president, another one of the companies he’s connected to is raising some eyebrows in the rural district south of Dallas.

McNutt, the GOP challenger to Rep. Byron Cook, also has a 5% stake in a venture capital group called the Silicon Valley Growth Syndicate, which has investments in a company that promotes itself as “the world’s online headshop.” That company known as Billowby features an "education center” teaching people how to do things like roll joints, smoke and clean bongs, and more.

A spokesman for McNutt said he is not in control of the investments made by the group and was only gifted a 5% share in the fund.

The investment in Billowby is part of the investment portfolio touted by McNutt’s father, L.W. McNutt on his personal website. Both Thomas McNutt and his father are listed as being on “the team” of the Silicon Valley Growth Syndicate, which focuses its capital on tech startups.

McNutt’s role with the group of investors is described as working “in the vibrant start up communities on university campuses to research, identify and introduce our Silicon Valley Growth Partnership to up and coming undergraduate and graduate entrepreneurs.”

Rep. Cook was disgusted by the news and said he would like McNutt to explain his involvement in the company.

"I find it reprehensible that my opponent is profiting off selling marijuana smoking paraphernalia to our youngsters,” Cook said. Reached for comment, McNutt’s spokesman Luke Macias said his client is not involved in making decisions about which companies are chosen by the investors.

"3 years ago Thomas's father gifted him 5% ownership in a small fund investing in tech companies,” Macias said “Thomas is not a board member of this fund nor does he have a say in any investments made. He has received no financial gain whatsoever from the interest he holds."

One of the most popular figures in Corsicana, former Mayor C.L. "Buster" Brown told Quorum Report that he was taken aback when he learned some of the McNutts’ money is in a company that sells drug paraphernalia.

"It just seems out of character for someone who portrays himself as being so righteous," Brown said.

Brown, who served as mayor from 2004 to 2011 before retiring, said it also confounds him that McNutt would want to represent the area that stretches from the Hillsboro area over to Palestine because his family’s philanthropy and civic engagement has been focused on Dallas.

"You don't see their names on United Way or things like that around here,” Brown said. “If you have a good event, you might get two dozen cookies from their bakery but that’s about all you’re going to get,” he said. “They will contribute to anything that will cause them to get to get their pictures in the Dallas Morning News.”

Pressing further on that point, Brown mentioned an invitation for a Dallas political fundraiser for McNutt and said “maybe Thomas should run for representative up in Dallas.”

Brown is correct that Thomas McNutt has not lived in Corsicana for very long, though his family’s bakery company has deep roots there. According to public documents, McNutt registered to vote in Navarro County in 2014 after previously having been registered in Dallas County.

But in the time he has been living in the district, McNutt has joined in the Rotary Club, serves on the board of the Corsicana YMCA, chairs the Navarro County Aggie Muster. He also teaches Sunday school at the First Baptist Church of Corsicana.

Copyright January 13, 2016, Harvey Kronberg, www.quorumreport.com, All rights are reserved. Republished with permission.


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