AUSTIN – The Texas Democratic Party filed a lawsuit in Travis County accusing Michael Quinn Sullivan and Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen of campaign finance violations.
On July 25, Sullivan, the CEO of Empower Texans, posted a blog on Texas Scorecard asserting Bonnen and Caucus Chair Dustin Burrows offered him long sought after media credentials in return for targeting specific Republican legislators in next year’s primary elections.
Sullivan secretly recorded the meeting but has yet to release the tape, allowing only a handful of select lawmakers to listen. Bonnen has since made a public apology and admitted to saying “terrible things” during the meeting.
“It has also become clear that Speaker Bonnen made demeaning and bigoted comments about duly-elected Democratic members of the Texas House,” said Gilberto Hinojosa, chair of the Texas Democratic Party, in an email announcing the lawsuit.
“His derogatory comments not only show a serious lack of judgment and leadership, they show a lack of respect for women, the LGBT community, and the Jewish community.”
The lawsuit alleges that during the June 12 meeting a scheme was cooked up to direct right-wing political money at incumbents and that the discussions also occurred during the fundraising moratorium and inside the speaker's office in the Texas Capitol.
The backroom meeting may have created an unregistered political action committed in violation of state law and that is illegal and in violation of multiple sections of Chapter 253 of the Texas Election Code, according to the suit.
“Texans deserve to know what happens in their government on their dime, and that elected officials are getting their job done, not scheming to abuse power,” Hinojosa said in the email. “That is why, the Texas Democratic Party and State Representative Ana-Maria Ramos took legal action.”
The lawsuit seeks to force Sullivan into producing the tape and naming all those who have listened to the recording thus far.