Conroe, August 21 – The Montgomery County Republican Party (MCRP) County Executive Committee voted unanimously to call for the resignation of Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen. State Republican Executive Committeewoman Allison Winter, who represents Senatorial District 4, authored the resolution which called upon Speaker Bonnen to resign for engaging in an attempt to commit bribery and for other misconduct during the meeting he called in his office with Empower Texans Chairman Michael Quinn Sullivan in the Texas State Capitol on June 12, 2019.
The resolution calling for Bonnen’s resignation received 47 votes in favor, none opposed, and three abstentions. The MCRP County Executive Committee is composed of the elected Republican Precinct Chairs.
The unity of all of the Republican leaders made much floor debate over the resolution unnecessary. MCRP Vice Chairman Reagan Reed called for a roll call vote, “because this issue is very important.”
The June 12 meeting between Bonnen, the Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, and Empower Texans Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael Quinn Sullivan in Bonnen’s office in the Texas State Capitol involved a discussion in which Bonnen offered to allow Empower Texans’ online blog correspondents to obtain press credentials to the Texas Legislature in return for Sullivan’s promise to “lay off our criticism of the legislative session, not spend money from our affiliated PACs against certain Republicans, and—most shockingly—go after a list of other Republicans in the 2020 primary elections,” as Sullivan described it. State Representative Dustin Burrows, Republican of Lubbock, who is the House GOP Caucus Chairman and a close political ally of Bonnen, attended the June 12 meeting with Bonnen and Sullivan.
State Representative Steve Toth, Republican of Conroe said, “The tape recording, which Michael [Quinn Sullivan] played was vile and incredibly damaging. The rhetoric Speaker Bonnen used during the meeting was terrible about both sides.” Toth continued, “Speaker Bonnen said some terrible things about democrats and Republicans in the House.”
At the end of the June 12 meeting, according to Sullivan, as Sullivan reported in Texas Scorecard, the leading blog of Empower Texans, Bonnen left his office in the Texas State Capitol where they met and Burrows read a list of ten (10) Republican State Representatives whom Bonnen wanted Empower Texans and its political action committees to target in return for press credentials for the “Texas Scorecard” blog reporters. The list, according to Sullivan, was 10 Republican Representatives – Steve Allison, Trent Ashby, Ernest Bailes, Travis Clardy, Drew Darby, Kyle Kacal, Stan Lambert, John Caney, and Phil Stephenson.
On June 27, 2019, Bonnen issued a letter to Sullivan, which such letter Bonnen released publicly, in which the Speaker denied Sullivan’s version of the meeting. Speaker Bonnen’s letter follows.
Sullivan had tape-recorded the entire meeting, however.
Reports about Sullivan’s recording suggest that Bonnen’s conduct may have skirted very close to violating Texas Penal Code Section 36.02, the Texas Bribery Statute, which provides, “A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly offers, confers, or agrees to confer on another, or solicits, accepts, or agrees to accept from another: (1) any benefit as consideration for the recipient’s decision, opinion, recommendation, vote, or other exercise of discretion as a public servant, party official, or voter.”
According to a blog post on July 31, 2019, in the Texas Scorecard, Sullivan announced, “I recorded the meeting with Speaker Bonnen because of his history.” Subsequent events certainly have borne that out.