Texas House Speaker, SEU alumni to withdraw from re-election in light of scandal


Juan Diaz

Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen was planning on running for re-election before the scandal unfolded. He is now stepping down from the election after backlash from his recent comments. Bonnen has been in office as a state representative since 1997, three years after graduating from St. Edward’s.

On Sept. 22, Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen of Angleton, TX and St. Edward’s alumnus (‘94), announced that he will not be running in the upcoming election after being sworn in this past January. After a secret recording of his meeting with a conservative activist, it was in his best favor to cease his running in the upcoming district election to avoid further damage to his career considering the scandal.

Over the past couple of months, Speaker Bonnen was already losing support from his party and urged by many supporters — 43 colleagues from his party to be exact — to move along.

In an ongoing investigation by the Texas Rangers, experts have identified the June 12 meeting as quid-pro-quo offer. In this meeting with Empower Texans leader, Michael Quinn Sullivan, “Mr. Bonnen offered to provide [him] with long-sought press credentials to the House floor in exchange for help from Mr. Sullivan in working to defeat 10 moderate Republicans whom the speaker perceived to be out of step with his conservative agenda,” reported the New York Times. The Texas House Republican caucus announced once the tape was leaked that they condemn his actions.

On Sept. 18, House GOP Caucus met and called for Bonnen’s resignation. The following Monday at 9 p.m., House GOP Caucus made their final announcement.

According to Evan Smith, CEO of the Texas Tribune, the turning point for Bonnen for realizing to retire, was when “the four chairmen, plus John Frullo, came out at 9 p.m. on Monday and said ‘we can no longer support this guy as speaker’.”

After the four chairmen, Lyle Larson, Dan Huberty, Chris Paddie, Four Price and John Frullo made their announcement, Sarah Davis, Phil King, and Hugh Shine followed behind, bailing on Bonnen and causing him to lose 10% of support from House Republicans between Monday night and Tuesday morning. 

There was much questioning on whether Sullivan and/or Bonnen were telling the truth, especially after the confidence Bonnen asserted when calling for the tape to be released, alongside Dustin Burrows, TX House Rep (R).

Smith compared the release of the call records to the recent Trump-Zelensky scandal in which both believed, if released it would be better for them, when in fact “this tape (and records) was worse [for Trump/Bonnen].” 

Bonnen misrepresented saying the first calls where false when he claimed what Sullivan said is not true. Many are claiming he “outright lied” and did not “own his mistake.” 

Thursday, Sept. 24, District Attorney of Brazoria County, Jerri Yenne, acknowledged “Bonnen’s actions and statements were repugnant” but that there is not enough evidence available to prosecute him.

It was later announced that Burrows was also in on the call and a part of asking Sullivans for the list of Republicans. The two made many “disappointing and disturbing” comments about leaders, said Yenne. Burrows, however, will be seeking reelection in the lower chamber this upcoming election. 

Yenne, while not prosecuting Bonnen, was not shy to say that his comments “are offensive, lacking in character and integrity, demeaning to other human beings, including local government officials, cities and counties, and Members of the Texas House of Representatives who placed their confidence in Speaker Bonnen and are entitled to his respect.”