If Speaker Laney’s $1.6 million of cashed campaign fund checks didn’t warrant investigation, surely Bonnen’s press-pass offer wasn’t worth pursuit.

Pratt on Texas“JUST IN: No criminal charges for Bonnen from taped conversation,” read the headline in the Austin American-Statesman Thursday morning. “Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen won’t face criminal prosecution, Brazoria County DA says,” was the headline at the Texas Tribune.

During the noon hour I received a call from an acquaintance with deep political ties who asked: “Does anyone go to jail anymore for breaking the law?”

From the beginning of what was reported on the Bonnen offer to Sullivan, I have said that I doubt any of it will be deemed a violation of the law if for no other reason, the offer of press credentials to Empower Texans is debatably nothing of value and more importantly not something Bonnen could actually deliver as it would be a matter for the next Legislature of which he was not yet Speaker.

Yes, reading the plain language of the state constitution and statutes would seem to make the offer criminal however, that language is so broad that if you were visiting your state rep. in the capitol and said “If you’re even in Wichita Falls, call me and I’ll buy you a steak at McBride’s on Maplewood,” you would be guilty of an offer of bribery.

We have to look at precedent of what has been investigated and prosecuted as a crime under those statutes and if no criminal investigation was even pursued over former Democrat Speaker of the House Pete Laney of Hale County cashing over $1.6 million in campaign account checks for cash from 1995 to 2003 for “undisclosed and unreviewed reimbursements” for use of his two airplanes [you’ll find this story, and this, have been essentially scrubbed from the Internet, good thing I kept both,] why in the heck would criminal charges be recommended over the paltry things Bonnen suggested?

My friend’s question might better be: Why did a Republican get investigated for something as silly as “press credentials” and Democrat Laney get a blind eye turned, and near press silence, to over $1.6 million in cash being handed out from his campaign accounts?

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