The Texas Tribune reports that Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen is apologizing to House members for meeting with conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan.
He is specifically apologizing for the revealing information of his plan to attack fellow Republicans during the primary season. BLP reported on Bonnen’s political machinations, which have earned him considerable pushback from his Republican colleagues.
In an email to members of the Texas House, Bonnen said “I was stupid to take a meeting with an individual who has worked hard to divide our House.”
He added, “I said terrible things that are embarrassing to the members, to the House, and to me personally.”
Bonnen was referencing the June 12 meeting he had with Sullivan, the CEO of Empower Texans, who recorded his interaction with Bonnen and State Representative Dustin Burrows. This recording allegedly revealed Bonnen and Burrows’ plan to target 10 GOP members during the 2020 primaries in exchange for giving Empower Texans staff media credentials.
Sullivan then called on the two GOP leaders to “recant their false claims.” The Empower Texans CEO threatened to release the recording if they did not recant and has also sent the recording to certain Republicans who confirm his account of the encounter.
Bonnen firmly denies Sullivan’s accusations, while Burrows has not commented publicly on the issue.
On Tuesday, August 6, 2019, State Representative Tan Parker released a statement which undermined Bonnen’s apology and confirmed Sullivan’s allegations.
“I listened to the recording and it was very apparent that our Speaker and Caucus Chairman did engage in targeting specific members of the Republican Caucus,” Parker said. “I find this reckless ambition to be absolutely disgusting. Their actions directly contradict the bylaws and culture of our Caucus. The disparaging commentary that was also heard was the epitome of disrespect and a clear attack on the values of the Republican Party and the integrity we have established in the Texas House.”
Bonnen and other House colleagues have demanded that Sullivan release the entire recording, which has still not been made public. In a Tuesday email, which The Texas Tribune obtained, Bonnen reiterated his demand for the “entire unedited recording” to be released “so the House is no longer held hostage, and we can begin to heal.”
Sullivan scoffed at Bonnen’s apology to members of the House. He said on Twitter that Bonnen was only “apologizing for getting caught saying bad things.” The Empower Texans CEO then asked when Bonnen will “withdraw his false claims and lies” against him and whether the establishment Republican “apologize for making the unethical offer of official actions in exchange for attacking his targets.”
Basically, #TxLege @RepDennisBonnen is apologizing for getting caught saying bad things. When will he withdraw his false claims and lies against me? When will he apologize for making the unethical offer of official actions in exchange for attacking his targets?
— Michael Q Sullivan (@MQSullivan) August 6, 2019
Things aren’t looking so bright in the Lone Star State.
With Democrats over-performing in the 2018 elections, and a GOP that is internally unraveling, 2020 could prove to be a disastrous year for Texas Republicans.
The Texas GOP will need to get its house in order and live up to the many planks of its platform.
Its political relevance depends on it.
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