Texas Tribune News
Texas Democrats are suing over a June 12 meeting House Speaker Dennis Bonnen had in June with one of his top lieutenants and Michael Quinn Sullivan, a hardline conservative activist, saying the three were engaged in serious campaign finance violations and demanding that Sullivan produce a full recording of the gathering that he has shared with only a small group of Republicans.
Sullivan, along with Bonnen and state Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, are named as defendants in the suit filed by the Texas Democratic Party. All three are Republicans.
Filed in Travis County District Court, the suit claims that Sullivan, along with Bonnen and Burrows, effectively created a political committee during their meeting by discussing the targeting of certain Republicans in the 2020 primaries. That committee was not registered with the state, the lawsuit claims — one of a suite of campaign finance violations the lawsuit alleges.
Sullivan has accused Bonnen and Burrows, who chairs the House GOP Caucus, of offering Sullivan’s group, Empower Texans, long-denied House media credentials in exchange for politically targeting 10 Republicans in the upcoming election cycle. Sullivan later revealed he secretly recorded the meeting, though he has not yet publicly released it. Bonnen has forcefully pushed back on Sullivan’s account of the meeting. Burrows has not yet publicly weighed in.
State Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos, a freshman Democrat from Richardson, has signed on as a plaintiff since she is allegedly mentioned in Sullivan’s recording of the meeting, the lawsuit says.
“Texans deserve to know what happens in their government on their dime,” Gilberto Hinojosa, chair of the party, said in a statement, “and that elected officials are getting their job done, not scheming to abuse power.”
The defendants are also alleging that the meeting itself was illegal, since it occurred at the Texas Capitol.
Bonnen, along with a number of Republicans and Democrats, have called on Sullivan to release the entire recording. It’s unclear if and when Sullivan will do so.
Meanwhile, the powerful House General Investigating Committee, which has subpoena powers, is set to launch an investigation into the allegations. The committee is scheduled to meet Monday.