On Monday a committee in the Texas House of Representatives ordered the Texas Rangers to investigate the June 12 meeting between House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and rightwing provocateur Michael Quinn Sullivan.
Sullivan claims in that meeting, which he secretly recorded but refuses to make public, Bonnen allegedly offered him a quid pro quo: government favors — a media credential — in exchange for Sullivan’s group, Empower Texans, “taking out” 10 GOP colleagues in the House.
Needless to say, the deal that was allegedly discussed won’t be happening.
But it’s been widely reported that Empower Texans has already been granted media credentials by the Texas Senate. The group has spent $4 million to help elect conservatives last election cycle, including $75,000 to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Dan Patrick controls the Senate.
“A lot of people are afraid of Empower Texans, afraid they’re gonna get [the PAC’s] money directed at them like I did,” Bob Deuell, a Republican who served in the Texas Senate until 2014, told the Texas Tribune earlier this year. “The Senate has a rule about lobbyists on the floor,” he added. “And they put a lobbyist on the Senate floor,” referring to the Empower Texans staffers masquerading as journalists wielding a press pass.
Who cares about a press pass?
Granting press access to a renowned arch-conservative group, funded by an oil barron sugar daddy, fuels the rightwing media empire in the state. They can freely attack Democrats in their coverage —and Republicans they don’t like.