In September, the State Republican Executive Committee (SREC), the delegate-elected committee overseeing the Republican Party of Texas, passed, nearly unanimously, a “Resolution on Maintaining Trust and Integrity in Our Texas House,” “demanding truth and full transparency” in the investigation of a once-secret June meeting between some of the state’s most influential political figures. Now, 20 members of that body, in addition to the Party’s vice chair, have signed onto a letter demanding the resignation of the Speaker of the Texas House.
The Tuesday release of the recording of the meeting in the Texas Capitol between House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, former Republican House Caucus Chairman Dustin Burrows (Lubbock), and Empower Texans CEO Michael Quinn Sullivan has grassroots activists and Republican Party officials calling for Bonnen to join Burrows in resigning his post.
Seemingly made public by SREC Committeeman Mark Ramsey of Senate District 7 on Facebook, the letter issues a scathing criticism of the speaker’s conduct, says he made a “textbook ‘quid pro quo’ offer,” and calls on him to replace Democrat State Rep. Joe Moody (El Paso) as Speaker Pro Tempore with a Republican before ultimately laying down the ultimatum of resignation. The letter comes on the heels of more than 10 of the speaker’s Republican colleagues in the House issuing public statements suggesting Bonnen needs to resign or be replaced. The Texas House Republican Caucus is set to meet Friday in Austin to discuss what action lawmakers in the Texas House should take going forward.
The full letter reads as follows:
We have listened. We have listened to both our constituents and now, to the audio recording of the meeting between Speaker Bonnen, Chair Burrows, and Michael Quinn Sullivan.
The Michael Quinn Sullivan reporting July 25, 2019 was accurate in what it covered. Under no reasonable standard can one listen to the recording and not believe that Speaker Bonnen did in fact offer Michael Quinn Sullivan and / or his organization, Empower Texans (ET), Texas House floor media credentials (i.e. something of value) in return for help in the upcoming primary, including working against specific Republican members of the House. This was clearly a textbook “quid pro quo” offer. (NB: Whether or not the Texas Rangers will attempt to prosecute is a separate matter for them, a grand jury, and the law to decide.)
The reader is invited to listen for themselves, or read the article here or download the PDF transcript here.
There is much in the audio that goes beyond the quid pro quo. Everyone who listens will hear and key on different items. Things that are important to one may be inconsequential to another. However, we all agree that, in the interest of “trying to win in 2020”, that this should be dealt with quickly and decisively.
Going forward, Speaker Bonnen should appoint a conservative Republican who will support the RPT platform and legislative priorities as Speaker Pro Tempore, replacing the current Democrat Speaker Pro Tempore. House GOP Caucus members should select a new Speaker at their Friday, October 18th meeting, again being someone who is a conservative committed to support the RPT platform and legislative priorities in a transparent and ethical manner.
In a recent SREC Resolution on Maintaining Trust and Integrity in Our Texas House, September 14, 2019, that passed 59-1, our party’s executive committee voted to ensure that high ethical standards be restored. Part of the resolution states that “…the State Republican Executive Committee demands both truth and full transparency by all parties involved, and encourages a higher standard of always doing what is ethical instead of a lower standard of what may be legal.”
Regardless of what the Texas Rangers may decide about the LOWEST standard—the bare minimum of the law itself—we demand a higher standard, especially of those elected to high positions. The designation of the one who literally speaks for the House membership, should be above reproach in issues of honesty, transparency, and integrity. Truth in dealing with all people–Representatives of BOTH parties and constituents across this great state should not have to wonder if they have been told the truth.
The Republican Party Voters have spent untold hours and countless treasure helping Republicans craft the platform, the legislative priorities, and to elect representatives.
Unfortunately, what a month ago the SREC described in our resolution as the “…possibility of unbecoming behavior…” by the Speaker should now be a reality to all who listen to the public recording and read the transcript.
Chair Burrows has already resigned as chair of the House GOP Caucus over revelations of what is on the recording.
Speaker Dennis Bonnen should now resign as Speaker.