Bonnen at fundraiser file

Dortha Pekar, middle, laughs with Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, right, and Kim Bonnen during the Thunder on the Brazos charity dinner Sept. 21. The funds for the dinner will go to rebuilding Fort Velasco.

The morning after the Super Tuesday vote, I started my day like I usually do, reading The Facts on my iPad. I was happy to see that, once again, the good people of Texas had largely voted for good conservatives to represent them in Austin and Washington, D.C.

Unfortunately, one of the stories included a description of me that is flat out untrue. It’s no surprise when that language pops up in Austin conversations — it’s just another part of the blood sport in that arena — but it frustrates me beyond words when it shows up in my hometown paper portrayed as a statement of fact. It’s time to set the record straight with you once and for all.

I have been a part of the community here in Brazoria County all my life, except for the time that I spent at college and then in the Capitol representing my neighbors. For more than two decades, I’ve hopped in my truck and headed to Austin to work for y’all. During that time, you’ve told me your concerns on everything from education to roads to health care, and I’ve responded by going to bat for you.

I was certainly honored when my peers in the House named me their speaker to start the session in 2019, but that couldn’t match the significance of every vote I ever got from my neighbors in the district. Your precious vote meant you trusted me to put your concerns first, and that has meant the world to me.

Unfortunately, last year, my leadership style and direct approach put me in the crosshairs of a guy in Austin who has made a career out of spreading rumors, half-truths and outright lies about elected officials, hiding behind a slimy shield of self-righteousness and supposedly conservative values while doing the bidding of a Midland billionaire. He has singled out the Office of the Speaker for relentless attacks over the years, targeting both my predecessor and me. He also preys on legislators with tests of ideological purity, demanding obedience and pouring mountains of cash into unseating those legislators who won’t dance to his tune. That’s a whole lot of power for a guy who has never won an election or been held accountable by voters.

After last year’s remarkably successful session, I agreed to meet with him, hoping I could get him to break the cycle of baseless attacks on trustworthy Republicans and build some unity going into a tough election year. Unbeknownst to me, he recorded the meeting. Afterward, he began a slow trickle of accusations that I’d committed a crime — serious allegations made not to law enforcement, but through social media.

In response, reporters who consider this guy a deceitful snake and utterly unreliable source, lapped up his accusations and insinuations like kittens at a saucer, then wrote thousands of words that portrayed me as a criminal. Given the seriousness of his accusations, I zipped my lip so that I wouldn’t amplify that guy’s half-truths while the legal system was exonerating me.

Folks who have listened to the recording (including my wife) have pretty much said that’s the Dennis they know. Very direct way of speaking? Check. Short attention span. Yes. Profanity? Some. Did I embarrass myself. Yep. Evidence of a crime? Absolutely not. If you need affirmation of that, look no further than the findings of the Texas Rangers. After reading their confidential report (I’ve never seen it), Brazoria County’s own District Attorney wrote in October, “I do not believe there is sufficient evidence from the June 12, 2019, meeting to warrant a criminal prosecution of Speaker Bonnen … therefore no criminal charges will be brought.” For the record, the General Investigating Committee of the Texas House found no evidence of wrongdoing either.

I’m sure that exoneration won’t change what the chattering class in Austin thinks of me and, quite frankly, I don’t care. I do care that the people I grew up with, the people that my family and I see at church, the grocery store or the soccer field, know the truth.

You know me. You know my style. You know my heart. You know my results. At the end of the day, little else matters to me.

As I look back on my time in the House, I am proud of what we achieved together on your behalf. In the months that remain, I will continue to serve District 25, lead the House and champion the conservative values that make our state the envy of the nation.

As I contemplate my departure from the Capitol next January, I’m reminded of some famous words of Davy Crockett when he left Tennessee. To paraphrase him, I have a message for all the folks in Austin who want to trade in rumors and lies: You may all go to hell and I will go to Brazoria County.

Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Lake Jackson, has represented Brazoria County and District 25 in the Texas House of Representatives since 1997.

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(5) entries

PJBM626

Why did you lie about your comments. Also your conduct of selfishness and hot temper during Hurricane Harvey only worried about your house flooding

PJBM626

I also wrote you many times about the unequal funding of the PUC fund for UT and A&M

This money should be equally distributed to all public universities by method of student population or other. Students are getting cheated by the current biased system

Never got a response

dennisbonnen

PJBM626, I feel confident I know your identity despite your attempt at anonymity while making baseless accusations, as my office records clearly indicate that you are the only constituent who has frequently contacted me about the Public University Fund, along with many other important matters of higher education and state government (for which I applaud you). In fact, my records clearly show that you have received 62 mailed and emailed responses from me (and a few from my staff) since 2004. This is because a great point of pride during my tenure is running one of the most effective offices in our State Capitol when it comes to personally responding to my constituency -- one for which my staff and I have been applauded by citizens.

To that point, it is a tremendous disservice to my friends, neighbors, constituents, and Texas citizens for me to continue tolerating misleading attacks, outright lies, and smear campaigns, which is why I am breaking my silence. I refuse to continue allowing my wife and my sons to be innocent victims of the unfortunate toxicity that is plaguing our democratic process on every level of government.

So I ask you to substantiate your claims, just as I have done in my statement above. Show me where, at any time during Hurricane Harvey, my house was in danger of flooding. You can't because it wasn't; therefore, my home was of little concern to me -- only the safety of my family, who traveled to stay with other family members while I remained in Brazoria and Matagorda Counties working day and night, side-by-side with volunteers and responders -- because that's what neighbors do for one another! And that's what public servants are called to do.

I challenge you to provide us with greater detail as to how I was "selfish" and "hot tempered" during Hurricane Harvey because, contrary to your assertions, I have never felt more passionately dedicated to and proud of House District 25 than during those harrowing days. Short of risking life and limb, there is nothing that I wouldn't do to help our communities. Perhaps you are mistaking my assertiveness and fervidness for something or someone else? Again, please tell us.

rexster314

It's better just to be quiet and take your medicine. There was enough truth to the investigation and subsequent decision to not run again to make me not believe what you're trying to say

bktortorice

Michael Quinn Sullivan of Texas Scorecard invited you to answer the below six questions. Why not answer?

(1) Did MQS invite you to a private meeting, or did you invite him?

(2) Did MQS try to bribe you, or did you try to entice MQS into a quid pro quo?

(3) Does MQS have a history of making false allegations against citizens, or do you?

(4) Was MQS under House investigation, or were you?

(5) Was MQS ousted from the legislative leadership by his peers, or were you?

(6) Is MQS the bad guy here, or is it you?

You were man enough to play with the big boys now man up and admit you lost instead of crying "poor me".

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