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Breaking: Empower Texans’ Michael Quinn Sullivan Named In Lawsuit Alleging Illegal Campaign Negotiations with Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen

August 8, 2019

Lawsuit is crucial to preventing Sullivan from destroying a voice recording detailing potential illegal acts by Republican officials and Empower Texans

Earlier today, a lawsuit was filed alleging that negotiations during a meeting between Empower Texans’ Director Michael Quinn Sullivan with Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and Republican Caucus Chairman Dustin Burrows violated Texas election laws against campaign activity without proper organization and disclosure by the parties involved. The lawsuit is essential to prevent Sullivan from destroying a voice recording he secretly made during his discussions with Bonnen and Burrows.

The formal complaint can be seen here.


Over the last several weeks, Michael Quinn Sullivan has used leaked accounts of a secret recording he made during a private meeting with Bonnen and Burrows in June to publicly pressure and leverage Dennis Bonnen. Sullivan claims that Bonnen asked him to target specific Republican and Democratic State House members for defeat in exchange for granting Empower Texans State House press credentials, which had been denied during the 2019 Legislative Session. Bonnen denies the alleged “quid pro quo” but acknowledges that he defamed and used derogatory terms when discussing several of his House colleagues.

The suit was filed by the Texas Democratic Party and State Representative Ana Maria Ramos (HD 102 – Dallas). Both the Party and Representative Ramos have legal standing in the matter.

Why is the recording being hidden from the public and law enforcement?

If Sullivan is telling the truth and his goal is to expose an illegal offer made by Bonnen and/or Burrows, he would have released the recording and filed charges. Conversely, if Dennis Bonnen is being truthful, he would have filed formal charges against Sullivan and taken legal action to secure the recording and then made it public to clear his name. Neither Sullivan nor Bonnen have taken this logical action. Why?

The secret recording is crucial evidence.

Both Sullivan and Bonnen are in legal jeopardy. Public reports suggest that the men engaged in political discussions naming specific officeholders and campaign activity to defeat them. These type discussions absent proper political organization and disclosure violate Texas law.

Dennis Bonnen is hoping that a public mea culpa and personal apologies to individual members will get him past the crisis and allow him to save his Speakership. Sullivan appears to be playing a high-stakes game to leverage Bonnen and State House Republican leadership for far more than press credentials. Today’s lawsuit is essential to prevent Bonnen and Sullivan from ultimately cutting a deal and then destroying the tape that likely implicates both men in illegal activity.

Statement by Lone Star Project Director Matt Angle on Lawsuit Detailing Illegal Negotiations Between Texas House Speaker Bonnen and Michael Q. Sullivan

“If the secret recording exonerated Dennis Bonnen or Michael Quinn Sullivan, it would already be public. They are both hiding it, because it likely implicates them in a crime. The lawsuit is essential to protect crucial evidence that could be destroyed without legal action. 

“The Bonnen/Sullivan scandal is more than a spat between scoundrels. Bonnen and Sullivan appear to have illegally negotiated targeting and defeating members of the Texas House of Representatives. Dennis Bonnen violated his colleagues’ trust and very likely broke the law.  Michael Quinn Sullivan has made a career out of low blows, cheap shots, political betrayal and disrespect for the law.

“The Bonnen secret tape scandal shows how Texans are being failed by their leadership at every level.  Donald Trump launches racial attacks while John Cornyn, Greg Abbott and other State-wide GOP leaders cheer from the sidelines.  Meanwhile, Dennis Bonnen betrays the trust of House members from both parties by holding backroom meetings with unethical, off-the-edge operatives to plot against his colleagues.”