On Tuesday, the Dallas Morning News reported that Texas state House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, faced with accusations that he insulted several of his colleagues behind their backs and tried to arrange a quid pro quo with a conservative group to attack members of his own party, issued an apology.
"It was a mistake," said Bonnen in an email to fellow members of the Texas House of Representatives, obtained by the Morning News. "I said terrible things that are embarrassing to the members, to the House, and to me personally. You know me well enough to know I say things with no filter."
Bonnen, who became speaker this year after the retirement of Joe Straus, has been embroiled in an intraparty scandal following accusations that he met with Michael Quinn Sullivan, the CEO of the right-wing group Empower Texans, and tried to sell him press access to the Capitol building in return for attacking a long list of Bonnen's enemies in the upcoming primary season — some of the Democrats, but a large number of them his fellow Republicans.
"Let's go after these Republicans and if we're successful beat some of these liberal pieces of sh*t," he is reported as saying in a new blog post by the conservative group Direct Action Texas. He also allegedly referred to Democratic Reps. Ana-Maria Ramos as "awful" and Michelle Beckley as "vile," and that Rep. Jon Rosenthal "makes [his] skin crawl." GOP Rep. Keith Bell, according to Bonnen, is "just a dumb freshman."
While Bonnen apologized for his crude comments, Sullivan is unforgiving, noting on Twitter that Bonnen still has not apologized for trying to cut the quid pro quo with him in the first place:
Yet @RepDennisBonnen has apologized for none of that. At what point will he apologize for lying to the public and h… https://t.co/VrJfxn3m55— Michael Quinn Sullivan🇺🇸 (@Michael Quinn Sullivan🇺🇸)1565119860.0
The Texas House is a prime target for Democrats in the 2020 election. Rep. Beto O'Rourke carried a majority of districts in his competitive Senate race against incumbent Republican Ted Cruz. Democrats see capturing a majority in the chamber as their only way of gaining representation at the redistricting table in the Lone Star State after the 2020 Census, and preventing another wave of aggressive Republican gerrymandering.