Secret recording leads to House Speaker Bonnen’s ouster

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen announced Tuesday morning that he will not seek re-election either as Speaker or as a representative in his district.

The move comes a week after the conservative political non-profit Empower Texans released audio of a meeting between Bonnen and the group’s leader, Michael Quinn Sullivan. Sullivan secretly recorded the meeting.

In one exchange, Bonnen offers to give media credentials and floor access to Sullivan’s group if they target 10 moderate Republicans in the primaries.

In Bonnen’s statement Tuesday, he included a list of 43 House Republicans — a majority of the caucus — that he says made it clear they no longer support him.

“Since Friday, I have had numerous conversations with Members who care deeply about the Texas House, and I respect the manner in which they have handled this entire situation. After much prayer, consultation, and thoughtful consideration with my family, it is clear that I can no longer seek re-election as State Representative of District 25, and subsequently, as Speaker of the House. I care deeply about this body and the work we have accomplished over the years, namely, the outstanding success we achieved in the 86th Legislature. My below colleagues have made clear that it is in the best interest of both myself and the House to move on, and I thank them for the respectful and thoughtful way in which they have convinced me to do so.”

Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen

Sullivan later responded to Bonnen’s departure, calling it both a sad day and a good day for Texas:

Key Republicans announced on Twitter they had pulled their support

Gov. Abbott’s Response

A few hours after Bonnen made his announcement Gov. Abbott released a statement thanking Bonnen for his service and wishing him and his family well.

“I thank Speaker Bonnen for working with me this session to cut property taxes, to pass the Born Alive Act, to fund border security, to pass ten laws expanding Second Amendment rights, to protect individual liberty by banning red-light cameras, to protect free speech on college campuses, to protect religious freedoms, and to put on the ballot this November the ability to permanently ban a state income tax. Before becoming Speaker, Dennis Bonnen represented his district for over two decades with an unparalleled passion and vigor. I applaud Speaker Bonnen for his commitment to making Texas a better state, and Cecilia and I wish him, Kim, and his entire family all the best in the future.”

Governor Greg Abbott

Abbott also took this opportunity to urge all Texas Republicans to stand united in fear they may lose their majority in the House of Representatives.

“Looking ahead to 2020, the Republican Party of Texas must unite and work together to retain a majority in the Texas House. To that cause, I am redoubling my efforts to ensure we achieve that goal. All Republican House members have a list of accolades that makes them worthy of reelection, and I will work with each of them to tell that story to voters in their district. With hard work and leadership, we will ensure they have the resources to win in 2020 and return next session to continue to build upon our conservative successes.”

Governor Greg Abbott

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