I detest the politics of Michael Quinn Sullivan, the head of Empower Texans, the right-wing political action committee that seeks to yank the Texas political structure even farther to the right … if that is even possible.
Still, we now know that what Sullivan said about Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen — that the speaker was willing to give up 10 House Republicans while granting a political favor for Empower Texans — was correct.
Sullivan released the full text of a recorded conversation he and Bonnen had earlier this year. Bonnen had denied the contents of what Sullivan had alleged; then he kinda/sorta backed off and apologized to House members he insulted.
As the Texas Tribune’s Ross Ramsey reported in his analysis, Bonnen now becomes a potentially vulnerable House speaker: “But that political discussion, as Bonnen calls it, was fraught with underhanded scheming, given Bonnen’s constituents — the other 149 members of the Texas House — everything they need to replace, if that’s what they’d like to do.”
This revelation disappoints me. I had hoped that Bonnen might continue the tradition of moderate leadership set by his immediate predecessor, former GOP state Rep. Joe Straus. Silly me. It now turns out he can be had, as Sullivan’s recording has revealed.
He agreed to give Sullivan the names of 10 Republican lawmakers who Sullivan’s group could target in next year’s election. Empower Texans also would be granted media credentials, giving the PAC access to legislators on the House floor.
If I were a Republican lawmaker — even if my name wasn’t one of those given to Sullivan — I would be, shall we say, really pi**ed off!
Speaker Bonnen appears to have squandered the trust he sought from his GOP caucus in the House.
I won’t predict this will happen, but count me as one Texas resident who wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the Texas House finds a new speaker in January 2021.