State Rep. Travis Clardy was fielding back-to-back phone calls Tuesday after the morning’s release of the long-sought recording of a conversation between Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, then-GOP caucus chair Dustin Burrows and Empower Texans’ Michael Quinn Sullivan, who taped the hour-long dialogue.
One of the so-called “X Men” (roman numeral 10) of GOP representatives referenced in the alleged quid pro quo discussion (see reporting from The Texas Tribune), Clardy was described by Burrows as “the ringleader of all opposition” in the midst of one exchange about other members of the GOP.
Yes, Clardy’s heard the audio, but in the midst of a busy Tuesday said he’d not had time to catch up with news cycle after the recording dropped this week. Nothing’s changed, the District 11 representative said, since he first heard the full recording while in Austin.
“It was clear what was said. It was authentic. It was credible. The words speak for themselves. This is not a he-said, she-said, who-do-you-believe deal,” Clardy told the Kilgore News Herald Tuesday. “The question everybody is still asking, why in the world, why would my Republican speaker and my Republican caucus chair push this crazy idea to attack members of our own caucus, and what did they hope to gain by it?
“I think now the question is answering itself. What they have gained by it is a horrible scandal that is hurting the institution that I cherish and that the members I serve with cherish. They have embroiled us in a stupid controversy which does damage to the institution, damage to the Republican Party and I think it’s done irrevocable damage to our caucus.”
For Clardy, it was inevitable the full story would come out.
“I think that the reason that it came out today was because we have had our long-scheduled House Republican caucus meeting scheduled for this Friday, in three days,” he said. “This is a Republican mess, and I believe it’s incumbent on the Republican House members to clean it up.
“I’m looking forward to Friday to finally have a chance to see people face-to-face. I’ve had no communication from Bonnen or from Burrows since this happened. What I’ve seen are denials and misstatements and attempts to cover up the truth and an absolute, abject failure to own up to their egregious error and do anything to set it straight.”
He said he’d have more to say in the near future, but Clardy’s been keeping a low profile, preferring to let his colleagues, his constituents and his fellow Texans get the full story without the influence of his comments.
What comes next remains to be seen.
“I’m reconciled to what happened and I think I know what is going to happen and I know what needs to happen, but if there’s anything that’s been upsetting to me since all this started, it was the terse statements from Dennis Bonnen today,” Clardy concluded. “It didn’t address any issues. It expressed no remorse. It didn’t offer any apologies. It didn’t do anything except suggest to the House and the people of Texas that we all just need to move on and forget about it.
“That is not an option. This is exactly what it was the first time I heard it: It is political corruption and it must be treated as such.”