Empower Texans CEO Michael Quinn Sullivan publicly released the audio he secretly recorded of a June 12 meeting with Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) and Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock), who was chair of the Republican Caucus at the time. The recording largely confirms Sullivan’s previous accounts of the meeting, including discussions of “primaries to fight in,” the granting of House press passes for the Texas Scorecard (at the potential expense of Quorum Report’s Scott Braddock) and, with Bonnen apparently out of the room, a discussion of 11 specific Republican members, one of which Empower Texans was told to “leave alone.”
Those members were Reps. Steve Allison (R-San Antonio), Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin), Ernest Bailes (R-Shepherd), Travis Clardy (R-Nacogdoches), Drew Darby (R-San Angelo), Kyle Kacal (R-College Station), Stan Lambert (R-Abilene), Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound), John Raney (R-Bryan) and Phil Stephenson (R-Wharton). Burrows is heard saying that Clardy was “the ringleader” of the group. The other Republican member discussed was Rep. Keith Bell (R-Forney), whom Burrows referred to as a “dumb freshman” who should be left alone. Burrows resigned as caucus chair in August.
Bonnen is also heard making disparaging remarks about Reps. Michelle Beckley (D-Carrollton), Ana-Marie Ramos (D-Dallas) and Jon Rosenthal (D-Houston). He apologized to the membership in August for saying “terrible things that are embarrassing to the members, to the House and to me personally.” Bonnen previously denied Sullivan’s account of the meeting in a three-page letter sent to the membership.
“My colleagues have always deserved the facts and context this recording provides,” Bonnen said in a statement issued today (Tuesday). “With clear evidence now disproving allegations of criminal wrongdoing, the House can finally move on.” Bonnen described the meeting as “nothing more than a political discussion.” He said the “problem” is that he had it with “that guy,” referring to Sullivan.
The Texas Rangers are continuing their investigation of the meeting. Last week, they asked House members to provide any relevant information they may have.
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