After a Texas House committee officially referred the case, state investigators with the Texas Rangers will begin investigating the backroom offer given by Speaker Dennis Bonnen and State Rep. Dustin Burrows (R–Lubbock) to Empower Texans CEO Michael Quinn Sullivan.
The Texas House General Investigating Committee unanimously made the decision during a meeting Monday morning that was largely closed to the public. After gaveling in, the committee took a brief moment of silence for the victims of the recent El Paso shooting before entering executive session in the committee’s backroom.
After nearly an hour of secret deliberation, the committee returned to unanimously vote to refer the case to the Texas Rangers Public Integrity Unit to investigate potential criminal behavior, including the quid pro quo offer of media credentials in exchange for political targeting of certain Republican members.
“The chair and the members of this committee agree that it is the committee’s intention in adopting the motion that any investigation should follow the facts and evidence without regard to political considerations,” State Rep. Morgan Meyer (R–Dallas), the chairman of the committee, said at the hearing’s conclusion.
“The committee’s request for a report back to it at the conclusion of the investigation is in addition to, and not in lieu of, any other reports or referrals the Rangers are required by law to make,” he added.
A spokeswoman for Bonnen said shortly after the hearing, “Speaker Bonnen fully supports the committee’s decision and has full faith in the House Rules and committee process working as they are intended.”
“While I am disappointed Speaker Dennis Bonnen and State Rep. Dustin Burrows chose the course they did to deceive the public about our June 12 meeting, I’m glad the Texas House General Investigating Committee appears to be searching for the truth,” said Michael Quinn Sullivan.
“I recorded the meeting to protect myself from Speaker Bonnen’s proven practice of using lies to attack his adversaries. It is abundantly obvious my decision to record our meeting was the correct one. I remain hopeful Mr. Bonnen will recant his false claims about me and the facts surrounding our meeting,” he added.
Neither Bonnen nor Burrows was in attendance at the hearing. No further meeting or timeline for the investigation has been scheduled at this time.