STATE NEWS

Patrick says Sullivan is 'destroying' the GOP

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Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Tuesday reiterated his call for Michael Quinn Sullivan, a hardline conservative activist, to release a secret recording of a meeting involving Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen — and said that Sullivan’s refusal to do so is “destroying” the state’s Republican Party.

“BTW, release the tape,” Patrick tweeted at Sullivan, who had knocked the lieutenant governor on the social media platform over gun rights. “You are destroying our party.”

Patrick’s mention of a tape was referring to a June 12 meeting between Bonnen, an Angleton Republican, one of his top allies and Sullivan, who heads Empower Texans. At the meeting, Sullivan alleged in late July, Bonnen and state Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, offered his organization long-denied House media credentials if its well-funded political action committee targeted 10 GOP members in the 2020 primaries. Sullivan later revealed he had secretly recorded the meeting.

Bonnen and Burrows forcefully pushed back against those allegations. Both, along with Patrick and other Republicans and Democrats, have also called on Sullivan to release his recording of the meeting. Sullivan had so far declined to do so, though he has allowed certain Republicans to listen to the roughly hour-long audio privately.

Responding to Patrick, Sullivan tweeted that the lieutenant governor hadn’t yet listened to the audio himself — and suggested that Patrick may be “too scared to make a moral judgment without a poll.”

“What’s actually destroying the GOP is moral cowardice in which elected officials are unwilling to address the unethical behavior of other politicians,” Sullivan tweeted.

Patrick’s tweet on Tuesday is the latest — and perhaps most blunt — public acknowledgment that Sullivan’s allegations have agitated Texas Republicans ahead of what’s expected to be a competitive 2020 election cycle for the party. It also perhaps marks the largest departure between Patrick and Sullivan, who have long been aligned on issues.

The Texas Tribune is a non-profit, non-partisan news organization focused on statewide legislative and policy issues.

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