The Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives is an embarrassment to himself and to the State of Texas. Last week, after his failed attempts to publicly smear gun rights advocates for engaging in campaign-style tactics to deliver dangerous assault flyers on people's front doors, Dennis Bonnen (R-25) decided to throw a temper tantrum at the Republican Party of Texas Spring Dinner on April 9. According to Gunpowder Magazine, Chris McNutt of Texas Gun Rights was quietly minding his own business when Bonnen slapped him and began screaming at him:
“When the Speaker showed up at the event, from what I’m told, he went directly to where I was seated to confront me. And when he came up to me, he slapped his hand on my back pretty hard, and just started yelling at me. At the moment, I didn’t know what was going on or who it was, and then when I turned around, it was the Speaker of the Texas House, Dennis Bonnen, yelling at me in my face.
“He was saying things like, ‘Don’t ever come to my house again! Do not threaten my family! If you want to meet with me, you can come to my office.’ I just told him I was never a threat, and other than that, I didn’t really say anything, I felt like it was some sort of setup, because the whole thing has been manufactured from the beginning. I wasn’t sure if he was trying to provoke me and record it or what, so I just sat there and shut up.
“Bonnen then stormed out of the room. Multiple witnesses saw him put his hand on me and try to give me a public dressing down. It was pretty crazy.”
Other accounts from multiple witnesses corroborate this story, as reported by Big League Politics:
Speaker Bonnen then grabbed Texas Gun Rights director Chris McNutt, according to Mr. Rinaldi and Wylie. Bonnen then proceeded to accost McNutt about some blockwalking McNutt had recently completed in his district.
Bonnen continued to accost McNutt for some time, and refused to quit, despite being asked to leave by a staffer. Bonnen even accused the TXGR director of threatening him, one source said. David Wylie confirmed this account, but differed slightly, saying Bonnen went so far as to accuse McNutt of assault.
All witnesses relayed a scenario in which McNutt remained calm throughout Bonnen’s attack, and that he even tried to engage with the Speaker in civil discussion. All sources indicated that Speaker Bonnen refused to have a polite discussion. McNutt attempted to let Bonnen know that he was engaged in constitutionally protected speech, reportedly saying, “I was just walking neighborhoods, getting public support for a cause.”
To give further credence to this account, history seems to show a pattern for Bonnen's uncontrollable child-like rage. During the last Legislative Session while serving as Speaker Pro Tempore, he also was reported to have assaulted Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-92) on the House Floor. Tweets from Rep. Stickland dated March 6, 2017 seem to suggest that this pattern of behavior is not uncommon for Bonnen:
There is more to Dennis Bonnen, however, than just hitting people he does not like; he is also a pathological liar. Ever since Lone Star Gun Rights called him out for lying about his reasons for killing Constitutional Carry (H.B.357), Bonnen doubled down on his lies, just like a child with his hand caught in the cookie jar before dinner. Despite the fact that the fake news story about the crazy gun rights advocate showing up at the Speaker's private residence to question why our bill stalled went national, the little details began to change.
The Houston Chronicle, who was one of the first to break the "story," wrote the following (emphasis added):
On the day he posted a video saying he was in Lake Jackson, McNutt wore a shirt with an assault rifle on it, a detail that Kim Bonnen, the Speaker’s wife, says bothers her.
“You’re also showing up with a T-shirt with a machine gun on it,” she said, adding that the visit was “freaking me out…This cannot become how we advocate.”
She said she worries that other people who have an “insane view” may take it upon themselves to visit legislators’ homes.
It would seem as if Dennis Bonnen's wife was home at the time and saw the shirt that Chris McNutt was wearing at the time. After all, the visit freaked her out because of the "machine gun" T-shirt. Except that is entirely false. The Fort Worth Star Telegram's version exposes one very important detail that the Houston Chronicle seemed to have missed; Kim Bonnen was not even home at the time!
Bonnen’s wife, Kim, wasn’t home. (A teenage son was.)
But she said the idea of an activist “showing up with a T-shirt with a machine gun on it” was “freaking me out..."
So which is it? Was the visit with the machine gun t-shirt freaking out the Speaker's wife, or was it the idea that a man with a machine gun t-shirt was handing out tactical assault flyers with high-capacity bullet points on them that freaked her out?
While this one detail could be chocked up to bad reporting by the media, the fact remains that Bonnen is lying about a number of other things. For one, Bonnen claims that H.B.357 allows criminals to legally carry a handgun (which is a talking point straight out of the Mom's Demand Action playbook). In his absurd Facebook post where he thanks the NRA/TSRA for standing with him during these troubling times where he and his family "have been incessantly harassed by fanatical gun rights activists who want to eradicate sensible gun policies," he is flat-out lying when he said the following:
"These individuals want anyone – including criminals – to be able to carry a gun without a license and proper safety training."
Except, that is actually completely untrue. If anyone were to have actually read the bill, they would have found the phrase "not prohibited from possessing" littered throughout it. Meaning if someone was not legally allowed to possess a handgun under State and Federal law, then they cannot legally carry the handgun on them. Bonnen also said the exact same thing on the Chad Hasty Show (excerpt below):
Bonnen: “We were not at our homes. It was a clear effort to intimidate and threaten, and when you think about it, it’s on an issue that would allow a criminal the ability to carry a gun, because the only person in Texas today who legally can’t carry a gun is a criminal. Period... These types of individuals who are pushing a bill that simply changes the nuance of the law from a criminal can carry a gun without being questioned to presently we don’t allow criminals to carry a gun.”
In addition to Bonnen citing the lies from Mom's Demand Action, he also began doubling down on his lies about the grassroots.
Bonnen: “Fortunately [Burrows’] wife was pickup, carpool pickup from school, so if they would have been 15 minutes earlier or 15 minutes later, they would have found a wife and 3 young boys at the house.”
Fortunately for what exactly? What would Mrs. Burrows and the three young boys have seen exactly? A man with a handful of orange flyers placing them on people's doors. This is a direct attempt by Bonnen to sensationalize this lie and make it sound as if grassroots activists are somehow dangerous. In fact, Bonnen goes on to lie as hard as he can about it by saying:
Bonnen: “Then, [McNutt] went by [Burrows’] district office and flashed his gun in the district office to the staff.”
While Dennis Bonnen is lying on literally everything that spews from his mouth, this lie takes the cake. Some will take this as Chris McNutt was merely lawfully open carrying, but that is not even true. Chris was not even armed at the time. He flew to Lubbock from Dallas-Fort Worth and did not check any baggage. Since he did not have any baggage checked, he could not have brought his firearm with him. This lie is absolutely slanderous and disgusting, and Bonnen states it as the reason that the Texas DPS was at his home:
Bonnen: “The only reason DPS was watching my house was because of his actions at Mr. Burrows’ home and Mr. Price’s home the day before, and the comments he made at Mr. Burrows’ office where he flashed his gun, is because DPS said they needed to watch my home. So then after he is stopped by DPS approaching my house....”
This is the second time Bonnen has said that Chris "flashed his gun," which is a lie. Another lie is that Chris was stopped by DPS approaching his house. Chris approached the DPS Troopers on his own, as this string of texts shows (my last article also show's Chris' GPS tracking as well).
On numerous occasions, Bonnen has indicated that people have been calling his office and being rude and threatening. Unfortunately for him, no one at his office can corroborate that story. On April 11, 2019 at 10:53am, I called Speaker Bonnen's office to ask about anyone being rude or threatening. You can hear that recorded call here. I attempted to call Rep. Burrows' district office shortly after, but no one answered.
Unfit for Duty:
Dennis Bonnen is not only unfit to hold the Speaker's gavel, but he is unfit to be a member of the Texas Legislature. His child-like temper tantrums paired with his constant and habitual lying make him far worse than Joe Straus ever was. Straus was just a liberal Republican. As awful of a Speaker as he was, he cannot even hold a candle to how bad Dennis Bonnen is. Straus never physically attacked anyone to my knowledge, nor did he ever slander a private citizen to serve as an excuse for killing legislation. I say this not an endorsement of Straus, but as a condemnation of Bonnen. Bonnen is an embarrassment to himself and the great State of Texas.