Speaker Bonnen Cleared Of Criminal Charges In Bribery Probe, Dems Call Off Investigation

Texas Capitol building,
Photo credit JByard/GettyImages

AUSTIN (KRLD) - Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen will not face criminal charges in connection with the scandal that forced him to announce on Tuesday that he would not seek re-election. Brazoria County District Attorney Jeri Yenne released a statement Thursday saying there was insufficient evidence to warrant prosecution of Speaker Bonnen for Bribery or Solicitation of a gift by a Public Servant.

“As repugnant as Speaker Bonnen’s actions and statements are, I do not believe there is sufficient evidence from the June 12, 2019 meeting to warrant a criminal prosecution of Speaker Bonnen for bribery or solicitation of a gift by a public servant, therefore no criminal charges will be brought.”

Henne’s decision comes after 43 of Bonnen’s Republican colleagues in the State House on Monday evening pressured him to step down. The symbolic vote of no-confidence was the result of a secret recording made by Empower Texans CEO Michael Quinn Sullivan was released. Bonnen could be heard offering political influence in the form of media credentials to Sullivan in exchange for help ousting 10 moderate Republicans in the upcoming Primary.

Bonnen on Tuesday officially announced he would not seek re-election. He released the following statement:  “After much prayer, consultation, and thoughtful consideration with my family, it is clear that I can no longer seek re-election as State Representative of District 25, and subsequently, as Speaker of the House.”

Hours after the Brazioria County District Attorney cleared Bonnen on Thursday, the Texas Democratic Party announced they were dismissing their lawsuit against Michael Quinn Sullivan and ending their investigation into Bonnen. 

Texas Democratic Party General Counsel Chad Dunn issued the following statement:

“The Texas Democratic Party and Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos filed this case with two goals: (1) obtain and make public the recording that was being secretly leveraged against state officials and (2) ensure the Speaker’s breach of the state’s campaign finance laws did not continue. With the release of the recording in response to our lawsuit last Tuesday and the Speaker’s announcement today that he will no longer seek re-election, we have fully succeeded in what we set out to do.”