State Rep. Phil Stephenson, R-Wharton, will soon hear for himself a recording he’s been told proves the Texas House Speaker was trying to undermine his re-election campaign.
If it’s true, he said, he expects action.
“If somebody is that dumb to do this, we don’t need him in the legislature,” Stephenson said Thursday.
Conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan of Empower Texans said during a June 12 meeting with Republican House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, he was asked, and refused, to help undermine the re-election campaigns of Stephenson and nine other Republican state reps.
The request, Sullivan said in a June 19 letter, was made by Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock), the head of the House Republican Caucus, after Bonnen left the room. Sullivan later said he had a recording of the meeting, but has not released that to the public.
Stephenson said he had actually been in the same room shortly before Bonnen’s meeting with Sullivan, but left before the two began to talk about what he thought would be press credentials for Empower Texans staffers.
Bonnen, who has used his Speaker’s post to tout unity among the GOP House, has denied any effort to undermine campaigns Monday and called on Sullivan to release the entire recording to the public.
Burrows has not commented.
Two to three of the 10 representatives on the election list have already heard the tape, and have told Stephenson that it verifies the accusation.
“We’ve been speaking. We call ourselves X-men ... it’s kind of an inside joke,” Stephenson said.
State Rep. Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands, told the Texas Tribune the tape was “very clear” while State Rep. Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches, said “it is the most disappointing thing I’ve ever seen.”
Currently traveling, Stephenson says he hopes to be able to hear the tape by Saturday.
“There’s 10 of us mentioned. I’ve spoke with several. I told them, let’s don’t go crazy until we find out. If it’s true, that’s a big, big deal. We’re not just saying somebody is trying to undermine an election. It’s the Speaker of the House. That’s won’t stand,” Stephenson said.
Bonnen has also stated he wouldn’t tolerate House Republicans campaigning against incumbent Republicans in the party’s primaries.
Bonnen became the Speaker during the last Legislative session. It was a move Stephenson said he did not support.
He has not had any clashes with Bonnen, however, Stephenson said, adding his goal had been simply to use his skills as a Certified Public Accountant to help solve legislative issues. Many of his fellow legislators, he added, don’t have financial backgrounds.
“If I don’t like you, I’ll tell you. I don’t see why we’re spending all the energy on this rather than fixing Texas,” he said.