Grassroots conservative leader Michael Quinn Sullivan threatens to release audio of his meeting with House Speaker Dennis Bonnen if he does not “recant the lies and misrepresentations he has made.”
The Dallas Morning News reports that Sullivan accused Bonnen of targeting Republicans in next year’s primary.
BLP reported on these accusations as well, which further shows a growing schism between Bonnen and grassroots conservative interests in the Lone Star State.
On Wednesday July 31, 2019, Sullivan claimed to have recorded the June 12 meeting where the offer was allegedly made. The conservative leader then gave Bonnen and Republican caucus chairman Dustin Burrows, who was also present at the meeting, an ultimatum.
On Texas Scorecard, Sullivan wrote “Speaker Bonnen and Rep. Burrows must recant their false claims. All of them. Immediately.”
He added, “If they do not, I believe I will be obligated to release the recording — in whole or in part, I haven’t decided yet — so as to set straight the record they have tried to contort.”
Bonnen then proceeded to dare Sullivan to release the recording, saying “Mr. Sullivan, release your recording. Release it in its entirety.”
The House Speaker denies Sullivan’s accusations of him giving Sullivan the target list. Bonnen added that he held the meeting to “protect my Republican colleagues.”
The Republican from Angleton admitted that meeting with Sullivan was a mistake and that Sullivan devised it to “further create chaos among our caucus.”
However, three Republican lawmakers revealed to The Dallas Morning News that they heard the audio which confirms Sullivan’s account of this event.
State Representative Travis Clardy of Nacogdoches, who was a target on this alleged hit list, listened to the recording and said that the audio “was consistent with what [Sullivan] wrote in his blog.” Bonnen apparently made “disparaging” remarks about both Republicans and Democrat members of the Texas House, Clardy claimed.
Clardy also pointed how Burrows mentioned several GOP members who could be targeted during the primary season.
The representative from Nacogdoches said “They were made flippantly and they were disrespectful.” He added, “It was repugnant. This is my fourth term and this is the most disappointing thing that I’ve ever seen.”
Clardy then encouraged his House colleagues to listen to the audio themselves so that they can make a “clear, responsible decision for how we’re going to go forward as a body.”
The state representative holds no ill will towards Bonnen and Burrows and welcomes them to address the members in person to “try to set the record straight if there’s something we have misunderstood or missed.”
Another Republican, Steve Toth, who was not on the target list, commented on this matter.
In a statement, Toth said “What I derived from the audio tape is that Speaker Bonnen was not truthful.”
He added, “A list was provided during the meeting and the speaker referenced the list multiple times. Honestly I was caught off guard and shocked. I supported Dennis from day one and am embarrassed how poorly his actions reflect on the Republican Party.”
State Representative Jonathan Stickland also confirmed that he heard the audio. He claims that the tape goes for more than an hour and it is “clear and easy to hear.” He added that Bonnen and Burrows can be heard on it.
Stickland commented, “I’m shocked at the public lies and manipulation the speaker has tried to engage in. Texas deserves truth, honesty and a better moral compass than Bonnen is giving us.”
On Thursday, July 25, 2019 Sullivan commented on Texas Scorecard that Bonnen and Burrows offered writers at Empower Texans media credentials during the 2021 legislative session provided that the group target 10 Republican incumbents. Bonnen also requested that Sullivan not criticize the legislative session and not spend any money to challenge other GOP incumbents.
According to The Dallas Morning News, this list is comprised of “Reps. Tan Parker of Flower Mound, Steve Allison of San Antonio, Trent Ashby of Lufkin, Ernest Bailes of Shepherd, Drew Darby of San Angelo, Kyle Kacal and John Raney of College Station, Stan Lambert of Abilene, Phil Stephenson of Wharton and Clardy.”
These rumors confirm what many Texas grassroots activists have warned about for years.
After a disappointing legislative session, which saw Constitutional Carry killed by House Speaker Bonnen, grassroots conservatives are growing weary about Texas’ political leadership.
As Texas becomes more competitive electorally, the GOP will actually have to deliver on certain planks of their platform, lest they want to lose power in the Lone Star State.
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