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Dennis Bonnen needs to resign so that the GOP House delegation can move forward (to borrow a phrase). What began as an embarrassingly bad attempt at cloak-and-dagger political maneuvering has left Bonnen’s insubstantial credibility in a smoldering heap. Doubling down on his scandalous breach of ethics to orchestrate an apologist parade of GOP House members will only serve to add their credibility to the pile.

The apology letter was terrible. Blaming the situation on the man he tried to bribe and claiming to be incapable of controlling his own impulses should add to the alarm of anyone objectively evaluating this situation and anyone evaluating Bonnen’s fitness for office (let alone being the face of the Texas GOP in the statehouse). It doesn’t help that this dreck was followed up with scripted tweets of support from Texas legislators. Common elements of the tweets include: 1. Everybody makes mistakes, 2. He showed humility/apologized, 3. Move forward.

1. This wasn’t a mistake. This is a pattern of behavior that has been established as the way Mr. Bonnen operates. It’s who he is. It’s unethical and unacceptable. In this case, possibly even illegal.

2. There is a dearth of humility and apology in this letter. It completely refuses to even acknowledge some of the elephants in the room. It is defiant and proud from the first paragraph (maybe more of that impulse control problem).

3. Reps demanding to move forward will move forward without the grassroots, or at best with a fractured grassroots. Reps I have personally supported have joined the parade. There is no word strong enough to express the disappointment.

This situation presented an opportunity for Texas’ conservative GOP reps to demonstrate that they are part of something that extends beyond the pink dome and their ties to the political industry. It was an opportunity to demonstrate that the club doesn’t always trump principle. It was an opportunity to show the grassroots that what they do has meaning. It was an opportunity to demonstrate that real accountability and real wrongdoing can actually go together. These opportunities are rapidly evaporating.

The wagon circling that we are seeing is an exhibit of very poor judgement, inept and tone-deaf. It looks like contempt for things outside of the club. It has made the situation worse.

This is a commentary submitted and published with the author’s permission. If you wish to submit a commentary to Texas Scorecard, please submit your article to [email protected].

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