Throughout the June 12 meeting House Speaker Dennis Bonnen asked me to attend, he made numerous references to a “list” he said Republican State Rep. Dustin Burrows of Lubbock would provide—a list of “unhelpful” Republicans to “pop” in the 2020 primary.

Since I revealed the meeting and the fact I recorded it to protect myself from Bonnen’s well-known penchant for lying, Burrows has been publicly silent. He broke that silence this morning on a Lubbock radio show. He confirmed to the host, Chad Hasty, what I have claimed all along. While Burrows didn’t hand a “physical list” to me, he gave me an accurate roster of the Republican legislators he and Bonnen asked me to target.

Bonnen said that Burrows would “show you the list of who we hope someone will show up [against] and we hope you will fund.”

On the radio show, Burrows defended his actions and claimed nothing illegal occurred in the entire meeting. Except there is the pesky problem of him resigning as chairman of the Texas House GOP Caucus in the wake of the scandal. So why did he resign?

Tellingly, Burrows made a point of informing radio host Chad Hasty that he didn’t offer media credentials for Texas Scorecard reporters in exchange for my political activity. I never said he did; it was Bonnen who did that at the beginning of the meeting—in which he laid out the “quo” that my organization would get in exchange for the “quid” he was requesting.

Which is, of course, the real problem. It is not that Bonnen and Burrows were hypocritically asking me to do in private what they had in public said should not be done, namely, target incumbent lawmakers. Nor is it that Burrows and Bonnen had a pre-selected list of Republicans they deemed hostile to their leadership team.

The real problem is that Bonnen, in the presence of Burrows, offered official government actions in exchange for my private political activities. That is, at best, an unethical quid pro quo arrangement. At worst, it is much worse. Burrows, a licensed Texas attorney, was a full participant in the meeting—even if only to serve as Bonnen’s lackey in reading the names of Republicans Bonnen wanted to “pop.”

In his interview, Burrows claims he just offered an “off the cuff” list from a number of lawmakers on the wrong side of a vote. Yet oddly, before that, Speaker Bonnen started to name off some of the problematic Republicans on their list before stopping himself. Those Bonnen named turned out to be a subset of the very same Republicans Burrows provided as soon as Bonnen stepped out of the room. If there was no list, as Burrows claims, how could they have been so confidently and conveniently on the same page?

I’m curious if Mr. Burrows recalls his insistence—as I repeated back to him his list of GOP targets—that State Rep. Tan Parker of Flower Mound, his predecessor as caucus chairman, be considered a target?

More importantly, I’m curious why Mr. Burrows has yet to address the very specific offer Speaker Bonnen made: “If we can make this work, I’ll put your guys on the floor next session.”

If the meeting was set with “good intentions” as Burrows wants to claim now, two months later, why the quid pro quo? And why did the GOP Caucus Chairman not reject the speaker’s suggestion that I target any Republican incumbents? 

When Dustin Burrows answers those questions, we will know the answer to my original question: “So why did you resign?”

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and an Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, and think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, a son-in-law, and a dog. Michael is the author of three books, including "Reflections on Life and Liberty."


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