Friday, August 9, 2019

#TXLEGE: Thoughts on the Sullivan/Bonnen audio

"The wise shall inherit glory,
But shame shall be the legacy of fools."
Proverbs 3:35

Yesterday, we listened to the recording of the infamous meeting between Michael Quinn Sullivan and Dennis Bonnen.  For the most part, it reinforced our initial impression of this story.  If you've been following it, the recording doesn't contain a ton of "new" information.  But there's a lot of additional context.


  • Bonnen's arrogance, and Bonnen's stupidity, are...something.
  • On multiple occasions, Bonnen offers Sullivan official actions in exchange for political activity.
    • Each time, Sullivan instantly says no.
  • Bonnen also offers to allow Sullivan to stay in a property in New Mexico that his in-laws apparently own.
  • Bonnen has the demeanor of a frat boy who's trying waaaaaaaaaaaaay too hard to be your friend.
  • The hardest part to wrap your head around is that the substance of Bonnen's ask isn't necessarily crazy.  While he's doing it for the wrong reasons, Bonnen basically asks Sullivan to focus on rural members instead of suburban ones.  There's a certain logic to that strategy.  Unfortunately, there's no logic that suggests one make oneself a party to a felony in the process.
  • The most surprising part is the degree to which Bonnen's talking out of both sides of his mouth on his alleged "no campaigning" edict.  Bonnen spends nearly a quarter of the meeting telling Sullivan how he plans to vigorously enforce the edict against Democrats, but casually look the other way with Republicans.  At this point, the Democrats have every right to tell Bonnen to pound sand.
    • It's in this part of this discussion that Bonnen makes his causally vulgar remarks about Michelle Beckley and Jon Rosenthal.  The remarks themselves are not particularly bad.  That being said, we don't ever want to hear a lecture from Dennis Bonnen about "civility" or "respectful dialogue" ever again.
  • Speaking of the Democrats: If they're smart, they'll make this a gigantic campaign issue.  That being said, it's an open question whether the Democrats will be smart.  But they should....
  • On the other hand, if Bonnen departs soon, the impact on any future election should be minimal.
  • Apparently, Dennis Bonnen really hates Phil Stephenson.
    • Note: Stephenson's got a pretty mediocre record, but he's a nice guy.
  • Likewise Travis Clardy.
    • Note: This one's understandable.
  • Bonnen, and especially Dustin Burrows, are super thin-skinned about criticisms of the session.  They spend a quarter of the discussion trying to spin the results to Sullivan.  At one point, Burrows laughably accuses Sullivan of gaslighting the members.
  • According to Dustin Burrows, Allan Blakemore told Mike Schofield not to campaign last fall.
    • Note: It's not really relevant to this discussion...but why does anyone hire Allan Blakemore anymore?!?
  • Burrows claims the list is about members who voted against the ban on taxpayer funded lobbying, but Ken King and Gary van Deaver also voted against the ban and didn't make the list.
  • The list: Steve Allison, Trent Ashby, Dirty Ernie (Bailes), Travis Clardy ("the ringleader of all opposition" according to Burrows), Drew Darby, Kyle Kacal, Stan Lambert, Tan Parker, John Raney, Phil Stephenson.
    • Note: While they didn't make the list, Burrows also made disparaging remarks about Doc Anderson, Keith Bell, and John Smithee.
  • We don't know if 12 jurors vote to convict, but neither would it surprise us.
  • This author is not a lawyer, and we don't know the legal intricacies of this case, but there's no political reason not to release the recording publicly.
Bottom Line: Like it or not, this story will stick around as long as Dennis Bonnen sticks around....

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