In June, Texas state House Speaker Dennis Bonnen had a meeting with far-right conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan. In July, Sullivan revealed that the meeting had happened. He also alleged that Bonnen had asked him to help win in 2020, offering Sullivan’s media organization access to the lower chambers of the state House if Sullivan would help oust 10 Republican state officials. Sullivan threatened to release an audio recording he made of the meeting, and Texas Rangers were asked to open an investigation into the alleged bit of corruption. Speaker Bonnen has maintained he is innocent of any crimes and called for Sullivan to release the audio for the last few months.
Sullivan, for his part, said he was wary of releasing the audio for fear it would hurt Republicans running this November. On October 15, Sullivan released a recording of the secret meeting, allowing Bonnen’s own words to sink him. Besides Bonnen’s clear quid pro quo offer, he also can be heard disparaging both Republicans and Democratic members of the legislature.
Bonnen also made derogatory statements about North Texas Democratic Reps. Ana-Maria Ramos and Michelle Beckley and Houston Rep. Jon Rosenthal during the meeting.
He said that Rosenthal is a “piece of [expletive],” and that Bonnen’s chief of staff, Gavin Massingill, said, “His wife is going to be really pissed when she learns he’s gay.” He calls Beckley “vile” and Ramos “awful.”
Classy stuff. There have been alternate calls for Speaker Bonnen to resign and at least not seek reelection. Democratic state Rep. Mary González told the Texas Tribune that “I think he should consider everything. Maybe resigning, maybe saying he’s not going to run for speaker. Nothing should be off the table during the time of crisis.”