GOP in-fighting continues around House Speaker’s resignation

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Updated: House GOP caucus chair Dustin Burrows of Lubbock resigned Friday amid allegations he and Speaker Bonnen politically targeted 10 of their Republican colleagues.

In a televised town hall on Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott gave his blessings to the Texas Rangers to investigate his own Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen.

“What is taking place right now is the best thing that could happen,” Abbott said of the investigation, later adding that Bonnen stepping down would be “premature.”

Earlier this week, Texas lawmakers voted to have the Texas Rangers’ Public Integrity Unit investigate a meeting between Bonnen and rightwing provocateur Michael Sullivan.

Sullivan, the CEO of political action group Empower Texans, attended a June meeting with Bonnen and Rep. Dustin Burrows where he was offered an alleged quid-pro-quo by the House Speaker. According to Sullivan, Bonnen would provide him with government favors in exchange for a negative campaign against 10 GOP House members running for re-election in 2020. Sullivan said he recorded the meeting, a claim backed up by lawmakers who have reportedly heard the tape and confirmed some of its details. 

Sullivan has yet to release the recording.

Former conservative Florida congressman Allen West, who is running for chair of the Republican Party of Texas, believes Bonnen should resign. “When I think about Bonnen and [state Rep. Dustin Burrows],” West said, “you need to step aside, to let us do what’s right.”

On a radio show, West said he “can’t work with someone who has a lack of honor, integrity, and character.”

The candidate West is running against for party chair, James Dickey, seems to take the Abbott position: It’s too soon to make any determination as to Bonnen’s fate.

Photo by Emree Weaver / Texas Tribune

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