Possible Felony-Level Bribery Scandal in Texas Deepens as Reported Audio is Shared Among Republican Officials

Dennis Bonnen and Dustin Burrows accused of offering press credentials in exchange for political expenditures. (Image: Breitbart News)
Image: Breitbart News

At least three Texas state representatives said they believe the House Speaker has not been truthful about a meeting with a political activist where an alleged bribery attempt took place. The comments come after the legislators listened to a purported recording of the meeting captured by the activist.

“What I derived from the audio tape — it’s very clear — is that Speaker Bonnen was not truthful about a list not being provided,” State Rep. Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands) told the Texas Tribune. He said the recording reveals the ten-member list of Republican House members to be targeted in the alleged scheme was clearly “referenced, over and over, and over again. Multiple times.”

Toth said the comments caught him off guard. “I have been a supporter of the speaker since day one,” he told the Texas Tribune. “I love Dennis. I didn’t believe any of this. I was shocked. I am discouraged to see the light it put him in and the light it put on the Republican Party.”

Toth listened to the tape with Rep. Travis Clardy (R-Nacogdoches) Wednesday night after Michael Quinn Sullivan offered it as evidence to back up his claim that House Speaker Bonnen and House Republican Caucus Chairman Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) offered a quid pro quo of House Floor media credentials in exchange for political expenditures against the targeted members.

Clardy called the recording the “most disappointing thing I’ve ever seen” in his four terms as a state representative, the Dallas Morning News reported. “They (disparaging comments about Republican and Democrat House members from Bonnen and Burrows) were made flippantly and they were disrespectful,” he said.

The Nacogdoches representative confirmed Sullivan’s account of the meeting where he claimed Bonnen left the room while Burrows named several Republicans “that should be targeted or could be targeted without repercussion.”

“I was most decidedly on the list,” he told the Dallas newspaper.

“The Texas Penal Code, Section 36.02, provides that a person commits an offense of bribery if they offer or confer an official action in exchange for something of value,” Breitbart Texas legal analyst Lana Shadwick said. “In this case, Speaker Bonnen and Rep. Burrows are accused of offering to convey official press credentials from the Texas House in exchange for political action and expenditures by Sullivan’s political action group.”

“If charged and convicted under this statute, a second-degree felony, Bonnen and Burrows could each face between two and 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000,” Shadwick explained.

Rep. Jonathan Stickland also listened to the recording Wednesday evening. “I’m shocked at the public lies and manipulation the speaker has tried to engage in,” Stickland stated. “Texas deserves truth, honesty and a better moral compass than Bonnen is giving us.”

Stickland told Lubbock radio host Chad Hasty that Bonnen also offered to strip the media credentials from the Quorum Report’s Scott Braddock.

Braddock, who has not had the opportunity to hear the recording, told Breitbart News Thursday morning, “I won’t comment about the specifics of the tape without hearing it myself. It would be irresponsible to do so.”

“It’s ironic that the allegation involves media credentials when a true media organization would publish the entire tape instead of only allowing it to be played to a limited group of people,” the journalist continued. Braddock said he reached out to Sullivan requesting an opportunity to hear the recording.

The Dallas Morning News reported that the Texas Senate, which issued media credentials this year to Sullivan’s group, stripped Braddock’s Senate Media Credentials.

Bonnen and Burrows could be facing both political and legal problems following the allegations.

The House Republican Caucus adopted a rule which forbids any member from opposing an incumbent Republican. The rule, which became known as the “Stickland Rule,” passed in a caucus vote after being introduced by Chairman Burrows a state rep told Breitbart News on Thursday. Bonnen himself told House members at the end of the session that there would be serious repercussions if any member campaigned against another member — Republican or Democrat.

“If you choose to campaign against any of your sitting colleagues, I will weigh in against you,” he said at the time. “And if I am fortunate enough to be speaker, you will find yourself not well-positioned in the next session.”

“Ironically, it takes 10 people to call for a caucus meeting,” Stickland said — the exact number of Republican representatives allegedly targeted in the allegation against Bonnen and Burrows.

Stickland summed up the scandal, the Austin newspaper, “Bonnen and Burrows are done. It’s over. ”

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for the Breitbart Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Facebook.

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