The scandal involving House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and a secretly recorded conversation with conservative blogger and activist Michael Quinn Sullivan continues to roil the statehouse. On Aug. 12, a Texas House committee voted unanimously to ask the Texas Rangers to investigate reports of a closed-door meeting between Bonnen, Republican Caucus Chair Dustin Burrows and Sullivan. Sullivan alleges that Bonnen offered his organization media credentials in exchange for his targeting of certain Republican members of the Texas House of Representatives. On Monday, several Republican Caucus leaders publicly called for the release of a tape of the meeting that Sullivan says exists.The tape has not been released publicly.
Ross Ramsey, executive editor and co-founder of The Texas Tribune says the House members calling for release of the tape are Bonnen allies. Bonnen has also asked for Quinn to release the tape.
“They’re saying, ‘You’ve got this recording, which is the proof of what you claim against the speaker and against Dustin Burrows, the Ways and Means chairman. Let’s see the proof,'” Ramsey says.
The scandal has continued to hurt Bonnen, Ramsey says, as allegations continue to come out.
The Dallas Morning News reported that Sullivan has given the tape to the Texas Rangers.
“The Texas Rangers don’t have an obligation, as far as I know, to release the recording to the public if they have it,” Ramsey says.
Ramsey says Sullivan’s allegations have led to more questions about Bonnen, including whether he did anything illegal during the meeting, and whether his actions are now a political liability.
“Ultimately, in a divided political world, the only evidence anybody’s going to believe is their own ears,” Ramsey says. “And until people actually hear that recording, they’re always going to wonder if they’re on the right side of the truth.”
Written by Shelly Brisbin.