Wharton County’s state representative wants the Texas Speaker of the House to resign.
“I would hope he resigns. That’s the honorable thing to do, at minimum resign as speaker,” Phil Stephenson, R-Wharton, said Tuesday after listening to a tape recording of a meeting between Michael Quinn Sullivan of Empower Texans and Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and House Republican Caucus head Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, on June 12.
During the session, Sullivan said he was asked, and refused, to help undermine the re-election campaigns of Stephenson and nine other Republican state reps after Burrows left the room. Bonnen later denied the allegation.
“The thing, it’s exactly as Michael Quinn Sullivan said,” Stephenson told the newspaper. He and the other nine representatives are now trying to get a private meeting with the Speaker of the House.
“It’s very irritating to have someone do this,” Stephenson said, adding, “Yes, he did; he did lie.” Monday, Bonnen, again calling on Sullivan to release the entire recording to the public, issued an apology telling The Quorum Report: “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. That’s not an excuse for the hurtful things I said or the discussion that was had.”
He did not specifically say whether attempts were made to undermine any campaigns. Stephenson joined the call for Sullivan to release the entire tape Tuesday, saying he was a strong proponent of transparency.
“That’s my big thing. I believe in it,” he said, but added he felt the issue is becoming detrimental to a lot of people in the Republican party.
“But you can’t lie and cheat. If you do that, after awhile, you get caught. If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember what you say. That’s the way I was raised,” Stephenson said.
Currently seeking his fifth term in office, Stephenson spent this last term championing transparency efforts, pushing for sales tax to take the place of property tax for school funding, and trying to solve the concerns with the teacher retirement system via investments from life insurance policies. He’s hoping for another term, he said, but added, “I’m not going to hide a thing, If you don’t want me up here, I’ll go coach my baseball guys.”
Bonnen became the Speaker during the last legislative session. It was a move Stephenson said he did not support, but added he had not had any clashes with him. Now, Stephenson said, he awaits a meeting among himself, the other nine representatives and Bonnen.