Although disgraced Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen will not return for the next legislative session, a recently filed campaign finance report sheds light on who in the Austin crony class supported his unethical behavior until the very end.

After an audio recording revealed he attempted to offer media credentials to Empower Texans CEO Michael Quinn Sullivan in exchange for the political targeting of certain Republican House members, Bonnen was forced to announce he would not seek re-election in October of last year.

The saga did not play out overnight, however, nor should his ultimate announcement have come as much of a surprise to the political donors and lobbyists that had watched the speaker continuously dig himself into a deeper hole.

The original allegation came on July 25, after which Bonnen repeatedly denied Sullivan’s account of what took place during the meeting. The audio was then made available to lawmakers and other Republican activists affected by the contents of the recording throughout the summer, with the Texas House and the Texas Rangers officially launching an investigation into the matter.

The audio was ultimately released to the general public on October 15, with Bonnen bowing out a week later after growing calls from lawmakers for his resignation.

But as Transparency Texas points out in a new report, some donors were still sending large checks to Bonnen in hopes that his unethical behavior would go without consequence.


What happens now to all that campaign cash, which in December totaled more than $800,000? According to Transparency Texas, “Bonnen can choose to keep the money in his campaign account for a future run for office. He may also donate it to other campaigns, PACs, and certain charities. And, technically, he could also decide to return the money to the donors.”

Bonnen’s full campaign finance report, covering the second half of 2019, is available here.

Brandon Waltens

Brandon serves as the Senior Editor for Texas Scorecard. After managing successful campaigns for top conservative legislators and serving as a Chief of Staff in the Texas Capitol, Brandon moved outside the dome in order to shine a spotlight on conservative victories and establishment corruption in Austin. @bwaltens