The Back MicThe Back Mic: Bonnen and Sullivan Recording, New Fundraising Numbers

Here are this week's updates, including snippets from the recording of the once private meeting between Michael Quinn Sullivan and Speaker Dennis Bonnen.
October 18, 2019

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“The Back Mic” is a weekly look inside Texas politics and policy presented by The Texan. In just a few bullet points every Friday, you’ll know about the critical developments from the candidates, elected officials, and policies that impact Texans everywhere.

Audio released of Michael Quinn Sullivan, Speaker Dennis Bonnen, and Rep. Dustin Burrows meeting

On Tuesday morning, Sullivan released the long-awaited recording of his June 12th meeting.

Here are some of Bonnen’s highlights:

The Texan Tumbler

  • “If you need some primaries to fight in, I will leave and Dustin will tell you some that we would love it if you fought in them — not that you need our permission.”
  • “What I would love to be able to do, candidly, is kind of have — I don’t want to say an agreement — but kind of an understanding, look, you want to go pop some guys…”
  • “So the problem I’m going to have is that either way, whether we lose a few seats or we gain a few seats or we just stay stagnant, if I still have the same ten moderate Republicans who don’t want to help on anything, I’m still unable to do what you and I would want done and then maybe not even more what you would want done, okay?”
  • “I may give them a pittance here and there but I ain’t going to do what Joe Straus did.”

To listen to the audio or read a full rundown of the contents of the recording, click here.

The Quid Pro Quo

Bonnen: “And let me tell you what I’ll do for you — real quick, you need to hear what I want to do for you.”

Sullivan: “I don’t need anything done.”

Bonnen: “Well, no, you do. You do. If we can make this work. I’ll put your guys on the floor next session.”

Bonnen’s PAC influence

Bonnen: “I do think there’s some opportunities here because there are a few people that I’m not going to go dump money in to protect them.”

Sullivan: “But TLR [Texans for Lawsuit Reform] will.”

Bonnen: “No they won’t.”

Sullivan: “[You] think so? I hope so.

Bonnen: “Let me put it this way, I’m not gonna call and ask them to.”

Bonnen: “I can’t control ART [Associated Republicans of Texas] as much, but I will tell them to leave it alone.”

Statements from the players:

  • Bonnen: “I have repeatedly called for the recording to be released because it will be immediately clear that no laws were broken. This was nothing more than a political discussion — the problem is that I had it with that guy. My colleagues have always deserved the facts and context this recording provides, and with clear evidence now disproving allegations of criminal wrongdoing, the House can finally move on.”
  • Burrows: “I’m glad the audio has been released, as it should have been months ago. I now intend on focusing on what is important: passing conservative legislation for future generations and the needs of West Texans.”
  • Sullivan: “The one thing I’m absolutely sure of is that Dennis Bonnen needs to recant the things he’s said about me and this organization and apologize for breaking the rules of the Republican Caucus…Hopefully, voters and taxpayers will look at this and say, ‘How do we make sure this doesn’t happen again? Why have we allowed these self-serving games to be played within the office of the speaker?’ It should drive us back to the reminder that the citizens are in charge.”

Third Quarter Fundraising Numbers Released

Here’s a look at how a few of the hottest federal races are shaping up, including what they raised this reporting period and their cash on hand (COH).

U.S. Senate

John Cornyn (R) – Incumbent

  • Raised: $3.2 million
  • COH: $10.8 million

Amanda Edwards (D)

  • Raised: $557k
  • COH: $338k

Chris Bell (D)

  • Raised: $207k
  • COH: $112k

Christina Tzintzún Ramirez (D)

  • Raised: $459k
  • COH: $225k

MJ Hegar (D)

  • Raised: $1 million
  • COH: $894k

Royce West (D)

  • Raised: $545k
  • COH: $365k

Former Cruz Chief of Staff vs. Former Abbott Opponent and State Senator – TX 21

Chip Roy (R) – Incumbent

  • Raised: $574k
  • COH: $1 million

Wendy Davis (D)

  • Raised: $941k
  • COH: $604k

Blue Dog Democrat vs. Progressive Challenger – TX 28

Henry Cuellar (D) – Incumbent

  • Raised: $377k
  • COH: $3.2 million

Jessica Cisneros (D)

  • Raised: $318k
  • COH: $292k


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McKenzie DiLullo

McKenzie DiLullo serves as Senior Editor at The Texan. Previously, she worked as a Capitol Director during the 85th legislative session before moving to Fort Worth to manage Senator Konni Burton’s campaign. In her free time, you might find her enjoying dog memes, staring at mountains, or proctoring personality tests.