Dallas and Austin, August 8 – State Representative Morgan Meyer, the Chairman of the House General Investigating Committee and a Republican from Dallas, has called for his Committee to conduct a formal investigation. The Golden Hammer has confirmed with two members of the Texas House of Representatives and a staff member of the General Investigating Committee that Meyer intends to call for appointment of a Special Prosecutor to lead the investigation on behalf of the Committee and possibly to refer criminal allegations to appropriate prosecutors in Texas. The House members and Committee staffer requested anonymity.
In Meyer’s letter, he made clear that the investigation will focus on the allegations which Empower Texans Chairman Michael Quinn Sullivan has raised against Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and against State Representative Dustin Burrows who attended a meeting in Bonnen’s office on June 12, 2019, during which Bonnen offered Sullivan a “quid pro quo” under which Empower Texans’ blog correspondents would receive House press credentials in return for Sullivan’s assurance he would stop criticizing the 86th Texas Legislature’s poor performance and would only campaign against certain House members in the 2020 election.
Under Texas law, the General Investigations Committee has full subpoena power. The Golden Hammer‘s sources also confirmed that Meyer intends to subpoena Sullivan, at least one other Empower Texans employee, as well as Bonnen and some of his staff members.
A criminal prosecution of Bonnen or Burrows would likely need to occur in their home counties under legislation which became effective September 1, 2017, which mandates for elected officials and state employees that when there are alleged crimes involving public corruption, the case will be transferred to the person’s county of residence, defined as the place where he or she claims a homestead. Bonnen’s homestead is Brazoria County.
The House General Investigations Committee will hold a public hearing on Monday, August 12, 2019, at 10 a.m., in Room E2.010 of the Texas Capitol.
The potentially horrible trick
There’s potentially a horrible trick afoot. Meyer, who has been a firm political ally of Speaker Bonnen, is also an attorney who is savvy enough to know a catch.
Under Texas Government Code Section 301.025, if a person testifies or produces a document while claiming that the testimony or document may incriminate him, the person may not be indicted or prosecuted for any transaction, matter, or thing about which the person truthfully testified or produced evidence.
In other words, if Bonnen were to testify truthfully about the June 12 meeting in his office, after he first objects to questions that may incriminate him, Bonnen will enjoy full transactional immunity and will not be subject to a criminal prosecution, even for offering a quid pro quo to Sullivan!
A 1968 Texas Attorney General Opinion confirmed that under Section 301.025, a witness appearing before a duly constituted and authorized subcommittee of the House State Affairs Committee, either voluntarily, invited or subpoenaed, will gain immunity from state criminal prosecution concerning any unlawful acts about which he is required to testify over his objection, whether his testimony is under oath, or such oath is waived by the subcommittee.
Therefore, Bonnen will gain immunity from state criminal prosecution concerning any unlawful acts about which he is required to testify before the House General Investigating Committee.
It’s significant to note that Bonnen appointed Meyer as Chairman of the House General Investigating Committee.
Meyer’s letter follows.
In the letter, Meyer made clear that he seeks to bring “transparency, information access and accountability to this matter, and ensure[e]…that we protect the integrity of our statement government.”
If Meyer calls Bonnen as a witness before the Committee, however, it will be apparent and transparent that the entire hearing’s purpose is to provide Bonnen with immunity from prosecution.
If, instead, Meyer merely calls Sullivan and subpoenas the full tape recording, then the public will know Meyer’s motives are appropriate.
The June 12 meeting between Dennis 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.
Rumors began to surface about four weeks ago that 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.
Rumors are swirling that Sullivan intends to release excerpts of the June 12 meeting recording during the “Texas Scorecard Radio” show today at 12 noon.