By: Chris McNutt
In the wake of lies, scandals, deceit, and cocaine charges, two of Texas’s top public officials will not be returning to Austin after the 2020 elections. A third resigned from his post as the Republican Caucus Chair.
All of these “men” have one thing in common: They helped kill Constitutional Carry in Texas in 2019.
A Coordinated Attack to Kill Constitutional Carry
Earlier this year, Republican Speaker of the Texas House Dennis Bonnen was the single greatest roadblock to Constitutional Carry.
For most of the legislative session, Texas Gun Rights was flooding Bonnen’s district with direct mail to his constituents and donors and funneled thousands of phone calls and emails into his office, all asking Bonnen to stop blocking the Constitutional Carry bill.
To avoid taking a public position on Constitutional Carry, Bonnen dispatched state police to intervene in my door-to-door canvassing efforts and created a Fake News controversy about it in the media. All of this, of course, was designed to put an end to grassroots pressure from activists across the state.
But it was thanks to the pressure that Bonnen’s reason for killing Constitutional Carry was finally publicly exposed:
“Do I think Constitutional Carry is bad policy? Yes. So I’m not running from that.”
-- Speaker Dennis Bonnen, Dallas Morning News, 4/5/19
Dustin Burrows, Chairman of the House Republican Caucus, aided Bonnen by helping him manufacture a lie that I “flashed” a firearm in the presence of one of his staffers during my canvassing efforts. A lie Bonnen proudly spread over Lubbock radio airwaves and throughout the Texas Capitol without contention.
After a DPS investigation and the release of bodycam footage, all of Bonnen’s false claims were debunked and I was exonerated. But Bonnen already declared Constitutional Carry dead, and his friends in the media quietly swept the “controversy” under the rug.
Bonnen’s lies didn’t keep State Representative Poncho Nevarez from demanding I “crawl on my hands and knees” to beg for a hearing on Constitutional Carry, even though Bonnen already declared to the media he was killing the bill.
Of course, Poncho was in debt to Bonnen.
In his efforts to buy off everyone in his ascension to power as Speaker of the Texas House, Bonnen appointed Poncho as Chairman of the powerful House Homeland Security and Public Safety committee, the committee responsible for hearing Constitutional Carry.
Capitol insiders reported Poncho requested chairmanship of this committee for the sole purpose of killing Constitutional Carry, and Bonnen obliged.
If you didn’t already know, Poncho has long been supported by the Michael Bloomberg-backed gun control group “Moms Against Guns.”
So pro-gun Texans knew the fix was in against Constitutional Carry from the moment Poncho received this appointment, even before all of the smoke and mirrors were deployed by Bonnen and his cronies.
The Dagger in the Heart of Bonnen’s Political Career
Thanks to my run-in with Bonnen, the groundwork was laid for Bonnen’s resignation just a few short months later.
In June, Speaker Bonnen and Chairman Burrows requested a meeting with conservative activist and Empower Texans CEO, Michael Quinn Sullivan.
During the meeting, Bonnen and Burrows offered Sullivan’s group media access to the House floor in 2021 in exchange for political favors.
Specifically, the request was made for Sullivan’s group to target Republican lawmakers during the 2020 primary elections.
Some political insiders and legal experts say this was a clear quid pro quo. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. The exact type of despicable behavior you’d expect to see in a fictional episode of House of Cards.
Of course, Sullivan declined the offer and tried to expose it.
Instead of coming clean, Bonnen waged war with yet another fake news media campaign. Dragging Sullivan’s name through the mud in statewide media outlets, calling him a liar.
Thankfully, Michael Quinn Sullivan learned from my interaction with the Speaker and chose to record his secret meeting with him out of fear of being similarly slandered:
“I had in mind the lies he told (publicly and without any consequence so far) about Chris McNutt of Texas Gun Rights...so I wasn’t going to let him do it to me.” – Michael Quinn Sullivan
A Domino Effect
Michael Quinn Sullivan announced to the press he recorded the meeting and began allowing legislators to listen to it in private.
Bonnen and Burrows doubled-down, denied the events of the meeting and called Sullivan’s bluff – demanding he release the recording to the public.
But once multiple legislators verified the contents of the recording, Dustin Burrows resigned from his position as Chair of the Republican Caucus.
And once the recording was finally released to the public, Bonnen announced he was laying the Speaker’s gavel down in disgrace, slamming the door shut on a 22-year career in the Austin swamp.
Poncho’s Cocaine Problem
After emerging unscathed by the Dennis Bonnen saga, Poncho Nevarez was rewarded by Bonnen for his good behavior and loyalty.
Following the recent tragedies in Midland-Odessa and El Paso, Bonnen appointed Poncho to serve as Vice Chair of the House Mass Violence Prevention and Community Safety select committee, also known as the “Gun Control Roadshow.”
But in mid-November, Poncho made a shocking announcement he would not seek re-election through a cryptic press release.
Soon thereafter, an affidavit obtained by government watchdog group Direct Action Texas surfaced, showing Poncho accidentally dropped an envelope containing cocaine at the airport in Austin and is now facing charges and jail time.
Removing yet another one of Bonnen’s anti-gun henchmen from the Austin swamp.
Chris McNutt is the Deputy Director of Field Operations for the National Association for Gun Rights, and the Executive Director of their state affiliate Texas Gun Rights. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.