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Texas Matters: Speaker Dennis Bonnen Caught On Tape

Gabriel C. Pérez | KUT
Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen was recorded in a meeting making quid-pro-quo promises.

The 64 minute recording begins with cordial greetings, family talk and other pleasantries. It's June 12 and Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and Dustin Burrows, then the head of the Texas House Republican caucus, met with Michael Quinn Sullivan at the capitol.  Bonnen and Burrows didn’t know that Sullivan — CEO of the conservative political advocacy group Empower Texans — was recording the meeting.

Sullivan said he was glad it wasn’t raining — but a political storm was brewing. This tape has been a hurricane for the Republican speaker and there are mounting calls for him to resign.

On the tape we hear frank talk from Bonnen about moderate Republican lawmakers that he would like to see challenged in the primary to push the legislature further to the right. He talks trash about certain state representatives from both parties. Bonnen promises Sullivan press access to the Texas House if he follows the script.

The Speaker also makes it clear that one of his goals is to pass laws that hurt cities and county governments. And another Bonnen quid-pro-quo promise, he will ban Scott Braddock – editor of the Quorum Report from the house floor. Texas Monthly has called Braddock “the best sourced journalist at the Capitol.”

Scott Braddock discusses the tape itself, the drama surrounding it and his own reaction to being cast in the middle of it.

David Martin Davies can be reached at DMDavies@TPR.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi