08/09/19

Top Donor to Bonnen Investigator is … Dennis Bonnen?

On Wednesday, the Texas House General Investigating Committee, tasked with investigating internal House affairs, announced it will hold a public hearing on Monday, August 12 to investigate allegations against Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen. The number one donor this year to House Rep. Morgan Meyer, the Chairman of the investigating committee? None other than Bonnen himself.

Yes, you read that right. On June 25, 13 days after the alleged wrongdoing, Bonnen made a $19,890.00 in-kind contribution for polling from his campaign account to Meyer’s. 

Here’s the Backstory:

The investigation surrounds a meeting held on June 12 at Bonnen’s office with Bonnen, Chairman of the Republican House Caucus Dustin Burrows, and conservative activist and CEO of Empower Texans, Michael Quinn Sullivan. Sullivan alleges that Bonnen and Burrows offered a news outlet associated with Empower Texans (ET), Texas Scorecard, long-sought media credentials in exchange for ET using their PAC dollars and grassroots influence to attack certain Republican members of the Texas House. 

Bonnen vehemently denied Sullivan’s account of the meeting.

After Bonnen’s denial, Sullivan revealed he had secretly recorded the meeting. Although Sullivan has not released the recording to the public (citing concerns for the House members derided on the tape and for the Republican party in general), several lawmakers and political activists have listened to the recording and confirmed Sullivan’s version of events.

If true, Bonnen’s actions are particularly at odds with his message just before the legislative session ended. In May, Bonnen warned all House members, Republican and Democrat alike, that if they campaigned against any incumbent legislator, they would face consequences.

Who Else Is on the Committee?

It’s worth noting that at the start of the legislative session in January,  Bonnen, as Speaker, was responsible for appointing the five members to this committee, as well as naming the committee chair and vice-chair. 

House Rep. Morgan Meyer (R) – Chair

House Rep. Nicole Collier (D) – Vice-Chair

House Rep. Matt Krause (R) – Bonnen’s campaign is also the top donor to Krause’s campaign so far this election cycle, with a $19,890 in-kind contribution for polling on June 25.

House Rep. Candy Noble (R)

House Rep. Leo Pacheco (D)

Conflict of Interest?

Although these contributions were for polling, they are still a sizable benefit to Meyer’s and Krause’s campaigns.

Will Meyer and/or Krause recuse themselves from the investigation?

Will it matter to anyone in the Texas House that Bonnen’s campaign is the top financial benefactor to the campaigns of two of the five people supposedly investigating him?

Stay tuned. As always, at Transparency Texas we’ll be keeping an eye on the money in Texas politics.

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