House Speaker Dennis Bonnen’s actions are threatening the future of Republicans in the Lone Star State. He has been caught in repeated lies yet refuses to retract his false statements. Meanwhile, the state’s GOP officials are standing idly by—choosing the convenience of cowardice over doing what’s morally right.
I am owed a retraction of the false public statements Bonnen has made about me and my organization.
He lost the opportunity to privately retract the unethical offer he made to me in his Capitol office. As Speaker of the Texas House, he had the undisputed authority to take official state actions. He offered those without solicitation in exchange for my political compliance.
Bonnen has also lost the ability to keep this matter private by apologizing for putting me in an untenable position. I gave him that opportunity in a private letter. He instead chose deceit aimed at discrediting me and misleading his caucus members.
Bonnen’s recklessness has already cost State Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) his position as chairman of the House Republican Caucus. How many more Republican officeholders will sacrifice themselves for Dennis Bonnen’s ego?
As we saw this spring, Bonnen will even rope his family in for the sake of a lie. He told media outlets that his wife and son were scared by a gun rights activist who came to the family’s door. Except video evidence provided by the Department of Public Safety shows the activist in question never even approached the house.
If Bonnen will embroil his family in a lie, everyone else is fair game.
That’s why I recorded the meeting—not to create a public sensation, but to protect myself from Dennis Bonnen’s propensity to lie. As the CEO of a nonprofit media organization, and a lifelong Republican voter and donor, I didn’t ask to have my family and staff threatened by Bonnen’s willingness to deceive. To be clear—again—he asked to meet with me, not the other way around.
Yet after privately communicating with Bonnen to rectify the situation, he chose to lie. I made the situation known publicly to address his false claims—without ever referencing the recording, hoping still to spare him and innocent bystanders embarrassment.
His response was a deceit-filled letter to the GOP caucus, followed by a public statement in which he claimed, “Let me be clear. At no point in our conversation was Sullivan provided with a list of target Members.” Actually, he and Burrows both named names from what they both called a “list.” A list, Bonnen said, of members to “pop.”
Based on his false claim, I announced the existence of the recording. He told so many more contradicting lies in his public statements and communications with legislators that it is no wonder he has trouble keeping them straight.
Now, at the request of law enforcement, I have given them the recording.
I also gave every Republican Caucus member a chance to hear the full hour-long audio so they could decide for themselves who is telling the truth. The House Republican Caucus gave Bonnen to Texas, they have a responsibility to clean up his mess—a responsibility the new caucus chair seems unwilling to shoulder. It is apparently easier to be complicit in Bonnen’s abuses than it is to be an ethical leader.
Perhaps holding a chairmanship under a corrupt regime is more pleasant than doing what is right?
I have asked Mr. Bonnen to retract his false claims—that’s it. The responsibility for resolving this situation he created and is perpetuating rests with the Republican Caucus, not me. The problems this situation has brought the Republican Party are Bonnen’s, not mine.
The Democratic Party is suing me for the audio recording. I might have to give it to them; which I am certain they will use aggressively against Republicans. I am curious if the House Republican Caucus really wants me to give the audio to the Democrats?
If I release the audio—whether publicly or to the Democrats as part of their lawsuit—will the House Republican Caucus then find the moral courage to hold Bonnen accountable and demand he make the retraction I am owed?
Perhaps a better question: Do Texas Republicans want to be known for defending deceit and condoning corruption, or do they want to be the party that drains swamps?