Texas Rangers are in possession of recording at center of GOP scandal

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The Republican scandal continues.

On Monday, the Dallas Morning News reported that the Texas Rangers are now in possession of an audio recording of a secretive, under-investigation meeting involving Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen.

“I have made the recording available to the Texas Rangers at their request as part of an ongoing criminal investigation,” wrote Empower Texans CEO Michael Quinn Sullivan in an email viewed by the Morning News.

What’s going on?

Last month, Sullivan went public about a meeting with Speaker Bonnen and former Texas House GOP Caucus chairman Rep. Dustin Burrows. Sullivan alleges that during the June 12 meeting, Bonnen offered him an illegal quid pro quo deal. Sullivan alleges he was offered media credentials in exchange for politically attacking their own Republican colleagues. 

Sullivan also claims that Bonnen made offensive and vulgar comments about Democratic freshmen.

Both Burrows and Bonnen have denied that such an offer took place but have admitted that a meeting with Sullivan did occur.

Two weeks ago, a House committee voted to have the Texas Rangers investigate the allegations against Bonnen.  

The fallout

Cracks in the GOP armor are already clear. Local Republican parties in Montgomery, Denton, Polk and Nueces County passed resolutions either condemning Bonnen or pressuring him to resign. Burrows has already resigned from his position as House GOP caucus chair. 

“We don’t have to lose many seats [in 2020] to lose the House to the Democrats, and this could play a part in that,” Lt. Gov Dan Patrick said of the scandal last week. “The sooner it’s behind us, however it turns out, is the better.”

The scandal is a distraction for the GOP and feeds an existing concern voters have about political corruption in the state.

“Ultimately, in a divided political world, the only evidence anybody’s going to believe is their own ears,” Ross Ramsey, executive editor of the Texas Tribune, told The Texas Standard. “And until people actually hear that recording, they’re always going to wonder if they’re on the right side of the truth.”

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