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August 22, 2019      8:04 PM

Chair Murphy clashes with Empower Texans attorney, says any misconceptions could be erased by releasing audio of Bonnen Sullivan meeting

“You and I (and a few others) know that Mr. Sullivan was not given a list, but he created a list. That fact is missing from most accounts,” said Murphy, who heard the audio

After he was accused by Empower Texans’ attorney of misrepresenting the audio recording of the controversial June 12 meeting between Speaker Dennis Bonnen and the group’s spokesman Michael Quinn Sullivan, Chairman Jim Murphy, R-Houston, on Thursday night said the whole thing could be cleared up if the audio was released publicly.

That is something Empower Texans has so far refused to do.

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August 22, 2019      5:06 PM

Texas House Democratic Caucus sets Fall Fundraiser for one day before House GOP Caucus retreat

Per Save the Date that just went out, the House Democrats will hold there fundraiser Wednesday, October 16th

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August 22, 2019      12:31 PM

Burrows breaks his silence: On West Texas radio, Chair Burrows talks about the MQ Sullivan meeting and more

Burrows told KFYO radio host Chad hasty that was no physical "hit list," but that the names came from an off the cuff discussion of opposition to the taxpayer lobbying bill. Listen below

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August 21, 2019      7:38 PM

Amid scandal and after resigning from leadership post, Rep. Burrows will seek reelection to the Texas House

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August 21, 2019      1:58 PM

Gary Gates announces run for Zerwas seat

Former state senate and Railroad Commission candidate running to replace Zerwas in special election

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August 20, 2019      4:36 PM

Updated: Empower Texans is denied in request to include information about Bonnen meeting in lawsuit over House media credentials

Attorneys for Empower argued the June 12 meeting with the speaker should be considered in their case, the Fifth Circuit disagreed

Editor’s note: The story has been updated throughout – SB

Attorneys for Empower Texans were denied after asking the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to allow the courts to hear arguments about the alleged quid pro quo offer by Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen of media credentials in exchange for targeting specific GOP members in their primaries next year.

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By Scott Braddock

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August 20, 2019      4:33 PM

Chair Coleman and Rep. James Talarico announce reelection bids

For Talarico, it ends speculation he might seek a seat in Congress

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August 20, 2019      4:23 PM

Plumbers ask board to reverse course on rule changes

“What this will create is a path to prison…now how come I have to have a high school diploma or GED when I can drop out and become a plumber’s apprentice. I think it’s something that the board should reconsider and put back into the rules.”

A state agency decision to strike a high school diploma from the requirements to be a plumber has not been well received by the industry, as the board of the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners learned at their meeting earlier this month.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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August 19, 2019      4:31 PM

Lt. Gov. Patrick declines to take sides in Bonnen vs Sullivan controversy, asks for release of audio recording of meeting

Patrick suggests the infighting could be a drag on the GOP in a tough election year: “I really think that everyone needs to hear the tape,” Patrick said

In what appeared to be his first public comments on the controversy, Lt .Gov. Dan Patrick on Monday declined to take sides in the dustup between Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and Empower Texans spokesman Michael Quinn Sullivan.

But he said an audio recording of their meeting should be released as soon as possible.

Appearing on the conservative Mark Davis radio show in Dallas-Fort Worth, Patrick said he was uncertain where the controversy would go after Texas Rangers were asked last week to investigate the June 12 meeting of Bonnen, Sullivan, and former Texas House GOP Caucus Chairman Dustin Burrows.

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By Scott Braddock

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August 19, 2019      4:09 PM

Texas Water Development Board urged to support funding local flood projects

Stakeholders support an even mix between the loans and grants and the use of state funds to offer buyouts; about half said the need for rehabilitation of existing infrastructure was as important as new mitigation measures

Texas forges ahead into flood planning, putting together initial regional stakeholder groups and taking feedback as to how $973 million appropriated last session should be spent.

Flood planning is fairly new to the Texas Water Development Board, which was formed in the 1950s to combat long-term drought in the state. Most of TWDB’s work has focused on long-term availability and, more recently, on the revolving SWIFT fund.

Prior to 2015, TWDB’s involvement in flooding was primarily centered on distributing federal grants and coordinating the National Flood Insurance Program. But as the rounds of Texas flooding have become more intensive, lawmakers have additional duties: expanding flood gauges and hardening stream gauges against major weather events; taking a state flood assessment; and calibrating river models to avoid a recurrence of the Wimberley flood.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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August 19, 2019      4:06 PM

Braddock on radio: The Bonnen scandal takes a key argument for Texas GOP leadership off the table

Editor Scott Braddock and KFYO radio host Chad Hasty discuss the news of the day

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August 19, 2019      3:45 PM

Gov. Abbott sets special election for Nov 5 to choose successor to retiring Rep. Farrar, filing deadline Sept 4

Possible Democratic candidates include HISD Trustee Elizabeth Santos and John Chapa Gorczynski, a longtime aide to Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston

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August 19, 2019      1:34 PM

In wake of El Paso shooting, Abbott announces Texas Safety Commission

Meetings coming up August 22nd In Austin, August 29th In El Paso

You can see the full list of commission members by downloading it here.

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August 19, 2019      11:38 AM

Abbott appoints Ruth Ruggero Hughs as the Texas Secretary of State

Here's the announcement from the Office of the Governor.

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August 19, 2019      9:04 AM

Despite inclusion on alleged speaker hit list, Rep. Steve Allison announces for reelection

"Serving the citizens of Texas House District 121 is a genuine honor and responsibility, which I take seriously and hold in the highest regard. It is with this dedication and humility that I announce I will seek re-election," Allison said.

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August 16, 2019      5:42 PM

People on the Move

A subdued ALEC, agency news, lobby moves, and appointments

So great to see all your smiling faces at ALEC and the associated events this week. Even ran into a Democrat or two – and not just the protesters outside. Someone joked that any officeholders or candidates protesting ALEC better not have taken any contributions from various companies’ PACs. Would not be a good look.

Some of the folks on “the list” looked to be in good spirits at the Four Seasons bar, which I still just don’t like. And apparently one of the wives of an “B lister” (“Bonnen lister”) didn’t mind heckling Speaker Dennis Bonnen as he was speaking at the Texas dinner.


Meantime, there’s some agency news, lobby moves, and appointments to pass along this week. If you have career news to share with the Texas Capitol community, you can send it anytime at ksbraddock@gmail.com and please use POTM in the subject line. Many thanks.

Here’s the latest edition of People on the Move.

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By Scott Braddock

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August 16, 2019      5:36 PM

In general, school district ratings rise throughout Texas this year

The “C” and “D” categories did shrink. On campus grades, about a quarter of all campuses were “C,” another 37 percent were “B” and almost one in five campuses in Texas were rated with an “A” this year.

Commissioner Mike Morath spent part of this week celebrating the success of districts like Aldine ISD, while news outlets were focused on the future of nearby Houston ISD.

Both Morath and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick both emphasized a theme that “poverty is not destiny” during an appearance at Stephens Elementary in Aldine. Stephens moved from a “D” to an “A” in the course of one year, with a

“The educators at Stephens Elementary start the day with the belief that all children can learn, they can achieve at high levels, they can learn reading, writing and math,” Morath said. “And when they say all, they mean all. They don’t mean unless you’re a foster child. They don’t mean unless you’re homeless. They don’t mean unless you’re poor, or you don’t speak English or unless you’re in special education.”

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By Kimberly Reeves

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August 16, 2019      5:03 PM

New York Times: A Texas-Size Political Scandal Threatens Powerful House Speaker

After rumblings earlier this week that the RNC is unhappy about the situation and awkward moments at ALEC in Austin, the story goes national: "Except there was a tape..."

The story plays dramatically in the pages of the Times:

AUSTIN — In Texas, they’re calling it the case of “The Speaker and the Creeper.”

The political imbroglio started last month, when Michael Quinn Sullivan, a conservative pit-bull who routinely antagonizes establishment politicians, accused the Republican House Speaker, Dennis Bonnen, of offering his organization coveted House media credentials if it would work to defeat 10 incumbent House members from Mr. Bonnen’s own party.

Mr. Bonnen denied it, and the bombshell was initially greeted with some skepticism. Why would one of the state’s top politicians court a back-room deal — to undermine his own bench — with a man Texas Monthly recently described as “one of the biggest snakes in Texas politics?”

Except there was a tape….

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August 16, 2019      3:32 PM

Rep. Farrar retiring Sept. 30, asks Gov. Abbott to call special election for Nov. 5th

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August 16, 2019      12:09 PM

Rep. Dustin Burrows resigns as Chairman of the Texas House GOP Caucus, sources tell Chad Hasty in Lubbock

KFYO radio in Lubbock cites sources close to Burrows.

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August 16, 2019      11:05 AM

Denton County GOP executive committee calls on Speaker Bonnen and Burrows to resign over Sullivan meeting, alleged quid pro quo

Not an insignificant county GOP; the executive committee also asked the Republican Party of Texas to condemn the alleged actions "and assure the public that the organization will not tolerate anything that compromises the conservative principles and standards we hold ourselves to." The adopted resolution also asks the House GOP Caucus to select a replacement speaker

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August 15, 2019      10:17 AM

Despite speculation, former Rep. Ron Simmons announces he will not seek any office this cycle

He was said to be considering either running for his old Texas House seat or the Congressional seat being vacated by retiring Rep. Kenny Marchant

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August 15, 2019      8:25 AM

SB: "Forgive and remember"

There RNC is said to be quite unhappy that this kind of drama is unfolding while Speaker Bonnen's troubles become an issue in the race to lead the RPT; Bonnen's team and supporters shift from apologizing for him saying “terrible things” to arguing that the Sullivan meeting “is not a crime”

The apology tour is on as Speaker Dennis Bonnen and Texas House GOP Caucus Chairman Dustin Burrows seek to make amends after admitting to saying “terrible things” about members in a private meeting while the cops have now been called to thoroughly investigate whether there was any wrongdoing.

Some of the members on the alleged hit list tell QR that Chairman Burrows has sounded remorseful and looked “downright despondent” in meetings over the last few days. On the bright side, at least he has resurfaced and is talking with colleagues again. One member is said to have told Burrows that even though the apology is accepted – we’re all adults after all – that does not mean there should be no repercussions for plotting against fellow Republicans in secret and “making a deal with the devil.”

As conservatives gather in Austin for ALEC, the issue comes up frequently in the low talk. Bonnen gave the welcome speech at the reception last night then left. The story has not quite garnered national press attention so many of the attendees are hearing about it for the first time as they come into Texas.

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By Scott Braddock

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