True Texas Project says Fort Worth Botanic Garden blamed overbooking for cancellation

The CEO and founder of True Texas Project wrote in an email that the Fort Worth Botanic Garden initially told her the organization could not host its birthday celebration because the venue was overbooked.

“The venue for our party (Ft Worth Botanical Gardens) claimed they had double-booked and had to cancel us,” Julie McCarthy wrote in a newsletter titled “Julie unleashes” sent to subscribers at 1 a.m. Sunday. “We took them at their word until a few hours later when we learned the Trib’s hit piece had come out.”

The “hit piece” McCarty is referring to is a June 12 Texas Tribune article that outlined the agenda for the birthday party, which includes sessions on “Multiculturalism & The War On White America” and “Great Replacement Theory.”

Four speakers have pulled out of the event since the Tribune article posted, including former state Sen. Don Huffines.

On June 12 the Garden told True Texas Project it could not host its birthday party there. Responding to a comment on Facebook, the Garden said it “celebrates the diversity of our community and rejects all forms of hate speech, discrimination, or bigotry.”

Two days later the city of Fort Worth told the Botanic Garden had to reinstate the event at the city-owned park.

A statement from the city of Fort Worth said “through discussions between the City of Fort Worth and BRIT (Botanical Research Institute of Texas), the City’s legal department directed that the True Texas Project event be reinstated, as the City cannot restrict access based solely on a potential renter’s viewpoint.”

McCarty wrote she wondered if the double-booking explanation was an excuse to cancel the event.

“And of course it was no time after that when the gardens took to social media to let the world know they would never host a hate group like TTP,” she wrote.

The Fort Worth Botanic Garden declined to comment.

McCarty took aim at Huffines, who told the Tribune: “I will no longer have anything to do with this event. This is a dumb and inaccurate way to promote the Republican agenda.”

She also suggested that Huffines withdrew at the urging of his consultant, Noah Betz, who also has a consulting contract with Tarrant County Judge Tim O’Hare.

On Monday, Huffines told the Star-Telegram a statement: “The decision to withdraw from the event was 100% mine, and the statement I wrote speaks for itself.”

McCarty asked for donations and said Huffines was a key supporter of the True Texas Project.

“Lastly ... I have to be honest and say Huffines was a significant sponsor. He bailed, so it would be great to have your support now if you can swing it. I know our fundraising team has sent out some messages and many of you contributed,” McCarty said.

True Texas Project began in 2009 as the NE Tarrant Tea Party. In 2022, True Texas Project was classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s national list of extremist groups.

McCarty has declined multiple requests for comment.

While most Republican Tarrant County leaders have remained quiet about the event, Bo French, chair of the Tarrant GOP has taken to X to show support for True Texas Project and McCarty.

“Congrats on your 15th Birthday @TrueTXProject Hope you have a great event!” the June 13 post said.

Staff Writer Eleanor Dearman contributed to this report