Editorial: Texas Speaker Dennis Bonnen must resign

Eric Yollick, The Golden Hammer

Texas Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen, Republican of Angleton, must resign from office. He harms Republicans by remaining in office. He harms his friends by remaining in office. He harms people who have stuck their neck out for him in the past by remaining in office.

On June 13, 2019, Bonnen met with Empower Texans Chairman Michael Quinn Sullivan and offered him a “quid pro quo”: if Empower Texans will end its criticism of Bonnen and Texas House Republicans for their failure to pass the Republican Legislative Priorities, if Empower Texans will target ten House Republicans to defeat their re-election, and not spend PAC funds against some of Bonnen’s favored Republicans, then Empower Texans’ blog, Texas Scorecard, would be able to obtain press credentials in the Texas House of Representatives.

Bonnen then issued a letter two weeks later in which he denied the proposal. Sullivan, however, tape-recorded the meeting apparently on an iPad he had carried with him into the Texas State Capitol.

When Bonnen continued to deny the content of the meeting, as Sullivan had reported it, Sullivan began to share the recording with officials such as Republican Party State Chairman James Dickey. Last night, Sullivan played the recording for State Representatives Travis Clardy (Republican of Nacogdoches), Jonathan Stickland (Republican of Bedford), and Steve Toth (Republican of Conroe). Their reports were hair-raising descriptions of the content: a “quid pro quo” at the 16 minute mark of the tape, vile comments about certain House members, demeaning and derogatory comments about many Republicans and democrats, and more.

Bonnen showed deep errors in judgment on many levels in his entire conduct. His continuation as Speaker would do nothing but split Republicans, make any legislative agenda more difficult ever to pass, and create an even worse atmosphere of mistrust and discomfort among all 150 members of the Texas House of Representatives.

Bonnen’s actions were profound breaches of ethics.

If a prosecutor were to raise these incidents to the level of a criminal action, no one would gain from Bonnen’s continuation in office. It’s not even good for Bonnen himself to remain in office.

Speaker Bonnen must go.

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