AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas House General Investigating Committee has recruited three legal advisers to assist with the investigation into Texas Speaker Dennis Bonnen and his conversation with Empower Texans CEO Michael Quinn Sullivan.
On June 12, 2019, Sullivan walked into the Texas Capitol to take a meeting with Bonnen. What was said in that meeting has become the subject of articles, a lawsuit and an ongoing Texas Rangers investigation.
Sullivan released the audio of that meeting on Tuesday, prompting 13 Republicans and four Democrats to call for Bonnen to resign from his post.
In the conversation, Bonnen suggested Sullivan’s group go after a group of 10 Republicans during the 2020 primaries, offering his organization media access. He also made disparaging remarks about Democratic lawmakers.
On Friday, the committee announced it had retained a panel of legal experts to advise them after the Texas Rangers present their report on the Bonnen conversation.
The legal advisers include Patricia Gray, a former Democratic member of the House, Will F. Hartnett, a former Republican member of the House, and Thomas R. Phillips, the former chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court.
The three legal experts have largely civil expertise, rather than backgrounds in criminal law.
“My colleagues on the committee and I have consistently said that any investigation must follow the facts and the evidence without regard to political consideration,” said Committee Chairman Morgan Meyer (R-Dallas). “This bi-partisan panel will aid the committee in evaluating the final evidence solely on legal considerations. Each member of the panel is recognized for their legal expertise and judgement, and we are grateful that they are willing to again serve the public in this capacity.”
The advisers will review the Texas Rangers report alongside the members of the committee and advise them of the appropriate next steps.
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