Texas Republicans rocked by lies and bribery (updated)
Update (8/20): On Aug. 16, State Rep. Dustin Borrows of Lubbock resigned as chair of the Texas House GOP Caucus amid allegations that he and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen planned to politically target members of their own party in the 2020 primaries.
Update (8/12): The House Committee on General Investigating met to discuss the meeting between MQ Sullivan and Speaker Dennis Bonnen. There were no testifying witnesses and the committee immediately went into executive session, hiding the contents of their meeting from the public.
After a lengthy executive session, the committee announced that the Texas Rangers Public Integrity Unit will be investigating the meeting between Sullivan and Bonnen. They will then provide a report to the committee at the end of their investigation. Progress Texas will continue to follow this scandal and report on any further news.
Read the original story here:
Texas Republicans are rarely short on words and never apologetic, but that changed today with an email and a two-word subject line from the Speaker of the Texas House:
That's what Republican Dennis Bonnen sent as his latest response to a legislative scandal that has been brewing over the past few weeks. The story has had many twists and turns but it can be simmered down to three points:
1. The lie
At the end of the legislative session in May, the Speaker issued a stern warning to members who planned on campaigning against incumbents of either Party, stating that anyone who crossed that line would "suffer consequences." Clearly, he didn't mean it, because...
2. The turncoat
He then met with a right-wing Tea-Party aligned organization called Empower Texans, and reportedly gave them a list of legislators to target in the next election, including primary challenges to Republican incumbents.
3. The bribe
Bonnen then reportedly offered a favor: press credentials for the next legislative session in exchange for targeting incumbent Republicans.
And Empower Texans says they have it all on tape.
Apart from the fact that this is not the first time Republicans have been rumored to have an improper act on tape, it is the first time in a while that we've seen this kind of intra-party fighting among Republicans.
The Speaker hasn't been doing a good job defending his position, and today his email doesn't seem to lessen any criticism. The Speaker's email went on to state:
“I said terrible things that are embarrassing to the members, to the House, and to me personally.”
It's really not that different than what we've seen from Donald Trump, the Republicans’ president who makes no bones about throwing his own people under the bus.
This isn't the first time that Bonnen has been in hot water. Texas Monthly named him one of the worst legislators of 2011, writing that "The eighty-second Legislature was a mad, mad, mad, mad world for Dennis Bonnen, and no one was madder than Bonnen himself." And we called him out back in 2014 for using a slur in a committee hearing (video here).
But let's not mistakenly think that Empower Texans is a knight in shining armor here... far from it. The group is a bomb-throwing entity funded primarily by one donor, oilman Tim Dunn, and has little to show for its efforts in the state.
.@scottbraddock made a great point about this on his podcast recently - #EmpT wants to be recognized as a media outlet (hence their lawsuit regarding media credentials) but they aren’t acting like one here. If a newspaper had the audio, we’d have all heard it by now. https://t.co/cOfJDaRfgN
— Adam (@sooner930) August 6, 2019
Empower Texans' claim they don't want to hurt the Republican Party might be the funniest thing I've ever heard #txlege
— Scott Braddock (@scottbraddock) August 6, 2019
Apart from the obvious issues at play here of lies, being a turncoat, and offering a press pass as a bribe to do electoral bidding, it begs the question: If the Republican Speaker cannot be trusted to look out for his own people, how can he be trusted to look out for anyone at all?
This will continue to unravel. In the meantime, enjoy the fireworks.