Texas House Democrats demand release of Bonnen tape

Texas House Democrats are demanding a secret recording to be released that allegedly proves the Republican speaker had it out for lawmakers in his own party.

A hard line Conservative activist says he recorded the meeting during which Dennis Bonnen made him an offer. The deal was to go after a list of Republican representatives in the 2020 primaries in exchange for media access. The speaker denies the allegations.

The legislative session wrapped up in late May. This meeting apparently happened shortly after. That evidence has not been released to the public. And until that, it's a story of whom to believe.                                      

In his first term as House speaker, Bonnen set a goal of tackling school funding and property taxes. But it's what happened after the close of the session that he's now answering to.

Michael Quinn Sullivan, the head of the far-right political group, Empower Texans, says he met with Bonnen and another representative in the speaker's office.

In an article, Sullivan writes Bonnen offered house floor media access to Empower Texans' reporters “if we would lay off our criticism of the legislative session, not spend money from our affiliated PACs against certain Republicans, and go after a list of other Republicans in the 2020 primary elections."

Sullivan says that list included ten names, including Flower Mound Representative Tan Parker.

Republican Representative Jonathan Stickland from Bedford says he's heard Sullivan's audio from the meeting.

“You can't listen to this and not have chills go down your spine,” Stickland said.

Bonnen denies the allegations and has demanded Sullivan release the audio. Stickland says the denials don't mesh with what he's heard.

“I think that if every member of the Texas House listens to this audio, there's absolutely no way that he can maintain speakership,” Stickland said.

Representative Stickland has received donations from Empower Texans in the past.

House Democrats say Sullivan needs to release the audio and not just let select people hear it. The caucus chair said that if some of the accusations are true, authorities might need to investigate.