House Speaker Dennis Bonnen may be losing his grip on Republican House members, as a group of 30 members have gone rogue to request a special caucus meeting.
In a letter released this afternoon, 30 incumbent Texas House Republican lawmakers are calling for a meeting to fill a vacancy in their caucus leadership structure.
In the wake of an ongoing investigation by the Texas Rangers Public Integrity Unit initiated last week into the quid pro quo backroom offer made by House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and Empower Texans CEO Michael Quinn Sullivan, State Rep. Dustin Burrows (R–Lubbock), who was in the meeting and is a subject of the investigation, resigned from his position as chair of the House Republican Caucus.
After Burrows resigned his position last week, State Rep. Stephanie Klick (R–Fort Worth), the caucus’ former vice chair, took over the position, leaving her former post vacant.
In previous years, such a vacancy was filled over an email meeting. This time, however, lawmakers are requesting a physical meeting in order to hold the election necessary to choose a new vice chair.
Longtime Capitol insiders told Texas Scorecard the move is a major defeat for Speaker Bonnen and his leadership team, as it would provide an opportunity for members to confront the speaker over his actions.
According to those sources, Bonnen and his allies have been working for weeks to prevent such a meeting from happening. Now, according to Texas House Republican Caucus bylaws, one must be held by September 15, though the letter specifically requests a meeting in Austin the week of September 8 “in order to ensure the maximum participation by our Caucus members.”
By signing the letter, lawmakers are indisputably lining up contrary to the Speaker of the Texas House, and the problem may be even worse for Bonnen. A source told Texas Scorecard prior to the letter’s publication that though authors stopped collecting signatures at 30 members, still more members wanted to sign on.
The lawmakers signed onto the letter are as follows:
Gary Van Deaver