NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - Representative Travis Clardy and his staff first heard the audio tape of Speaker Dennis Bonnen this summer. Clardy was a select few Republicans who found it his responsibility to listen.
“They clearly have a list,” the Nacogdoches republican said while listening once again to a recording off a staffers’ phone.
Clardy refers to a list of ten Republicans Speaker of the House Bonnen doesn't want re-elected.
"They're talking about challenging primaries which our rules prohibit members campaigning against other members,” said Clardy, referring to a portion of the recording. “And they're talking about recruiting candidates to run against the ten of us."
Deal-making was offered. Clardy calls it a scandalous, but more so, “(It’s) a fundamental breach of trust. That’s what this is about to me,” said the Nacogdoches representative.
"Target these guys. Target these Republicans," Clardy points out when the words are heard from Bonnen on the recording.
Former GOP party chair Dustin Burrows was also in the meeting. He was recorded saying, "We would be thrilled to see Clardy, somebody else, come back in that district."
Clardy says he was betrayed by a friend.
"It was stupid. It was idiotic. It can prove to be catastrophic not just to the Republican party, but to the Texas House and the institution I serve in," said Clardy.
Bonnen wrote in a prepared statement that he did nothing criminally wrong and is pleased the House can move on.
“I’m not a crook is not the standard I expect from my Speaker and then to say it’s time to move on I found tone-deaf and insensitive,” said Clardy.
It’s insulting enough to some legislators that they want Bonnen to resign. Texas Rangers are investigating.
Clardy stepped out of the Speaker’s race in 2018 and voted for Bonnen. His opinion has changed.
“I cannot see any scenario that I could knowing what I know now and having heard what I heard and having seen what I’ve seen could I in good conscience ever support Dennis Bonnen to be the Speaker of the Texas House.”
A serious matter which Clardy says created a strong bond among ten Republicans.
“Ten in Roman numeral is X, so let's be the X men. Thus, was born the legend of the X Men."
Clardy will be in Austin on Friday to attend a Republican caucus meeting. He’s certain the recording will be a point of discussion. Some legislators want the caucus to take a vote calling for Bonnen’s resignation. It would be up to Bonnen to make the move because the legislature is out of session.