AUSTIN, Texas — Michael Q. Sullivan on Tuesday morning released a recording he made in secret while meeting with Lubbock lawmaker Dustin Burrows and Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen. The meeting was in June in Austin.
Sullivan claimed that Bonnen and Burrows offered media credentials to Texas Scorecard in exchange for negative publicity directed against 10 Texas Republicans. Texas Scorecard is affiliated with Empower Texans and Sullivan is the CEO of Empower Texans.
Bonnen publicly denied the allegations and Sullivan then publicly revealed that he had recorded the meeting. He threatened to release the recording.
Bonnen later apologized for saying “terrible things” but never admitted specifically to Sullivan’s allegations.
At one point in the recording Bonnen said:
“And so honestly, I just wanted to see if we can try and figure that out. And I mean this in a polite way, if you need some primaries to fight in, I will leave and Dustin will tell you some that we would love it if you fought in them — not that you need our permission. But what I would love to be able to do, candidly, is kind of have — I don’t want to say an agreement — but kind of an understanding …”
Later, Bonnen said, “And let me tell you what I’ll do for you — real quick, you need to hear what I want to do for you.”
Sullivan said, “I don’t need anything done.”
Bonnen responded, “Well, no, you do. You do. If we can make this work. I’ll put your guys on the floor next session.”
Much later in the conversation, Bonnen stepped out and Burrows named representatives who were opposed to reform of taxpayer-funded lobbying.
Burrows is opposed to cities and counties using tax money to lobby against their own citizens during legislative sessions. During the conversation with Sullivan, Burrows referred to it as taxpayer funded lobby.
Sullivan asked if he could write down the names.
In August, the House General Investigating Committee asked the Texas Rangers to investigate Sullivan’s allegations of quid-pro-quo.
A few days later, Burrows resigned as the chair of the House Republican Caucus. But he made it clear he was keeping his seat as District 83 Representative of Lubbock. Governor Gregg Abbott endorsed him for re-election.
Prior to now, the Lubbock County Republican Party and Burrows both called on Sullivan to release the recording. Texas Democrats went so far as to file a lawsuit demanding the release of the recording.
The Empower Texans website also has a transcript in PDF form.
About an hour after the release of the audio, Bonnen released a statement.
Statement from Speaker Dennis Bonnen
AUSTIN, Texas — Speaker Dennis Bonnen today released the following statement:
“I have repeatedly called for the recording to be released because it will be immediately clear that no laws were broken. This was nothing more than a political discussion – the problem is that I had it with that guy. My colleagues have always deserved the facts and context this recording provides, and with clear evidence now disproving allegations of criminal wrongdoing, the House can finally move on.”
Statement from Rep. Dustin Burrows
LUBBOCK – Today, Texas State Representative Dustin Burrows (HD83) issued the following statement regarding the June 12, 2019 audio recording:
“I’m glad the audio has been released, as it should have been months ago. I now intend on focusing on what is important: passing conservative legislation for future generations and the needs of West Texans.”
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