San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

State Sen. Donna Campbell, a New Braunfels Republican, during a debate on abortion earlier this year. TEXAS TRIBUNE PHOTO by BOB DAEMMRICH

by BRAD ROLLINS

In a story published this morning about State Sen. Donna Campbell’s eventful freshman session, Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News capitol bureau reporter Kolten Parker rather skillfully slipped in a captivating tidbit that has for months been the subject of giddy gossip among Austin insiders.

Four of six staffers have left Campbell’s capitol office since January, grumbling on their way out about the senator’s high-handed and dictatorial management style. The senator, for example, supposedly requires her staff to stand at attention when she enters the room. The most explosive accusation has centered upon a rumor that Campbell slapped her former chief of staff, Bonnie Bruce, during a committee hearing. Bruce resigned from Campbell’s office effective at the end of the regular session on May 31.

I asked Campbell about Slapgate on Aug. 13 following a press conference at Bobcat Stadium announcing Seton Family of Hospitals’ new partnership with Texas State University. True to form, Campbell was combative and chatty in denying ever having slapped Bruce.

“Wouldn’t you know if you’d slap somebody? I’ve never slapped anyone. [Not] even my husband who’s probably deserved to be slapped. I’ve never done it,” she said. Elsewhere during her meandering, six-minute-long rebuttal of the claim, Campbell said: “People are going to believe what they want to believe. … I’m finding out that something doesn’t have to be true. It just has to be said and you can build a story around it.”

Because Bruce has pointedly declined several opportunities to say publicly that her former boss slapped her — both to me and to Parker — I initially decided to put the story on hold in hopes that supporters of Campbell’s primary challenger, Mike Novak, would prevail upon Bruce to either put up or shut up. Either say the rumors are true or that they are not; it’s too difficult for me to put too much stock in an incendiary accusation that’s not even backed up by the alleged victim.

Now that the Express-News has introduced the story into the wilds, I’m publishing the audio of my interview with Campbell for MercuryPro members.

The interview is replete with precious moments.

Between indignant denials, the senator kept attempting to dress me down for shoddy journalism. Later, Texas State University President Denise M. Trauth interrupts the conversation in an attempt, it seemed to me, to rescue Campbell from the discussion. Campbell just keeps on talking, barreling through one non-sequitur after another.

dotted line for web» Listen to the Donna Campbell interview [5 mins, 47 secs] | Join MercuryPro.
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UPDATED 6:30 a.m. SEPT 11: The entirety of the story was made available to all readers. Audio is still available exclusively for MercuryPro clients.

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8 thoughts on “Brad Rollins’ Blog: Donna Campbell’s (supposed) slap heard ’round the Senate [PRO]

  1. Brad, after all, she is doctor. You know the difference between God and a doctor? God never thinks he/she is a doctor.

  2. Absolute GOLD audio. “…I don’t need to go on and on…” (as she goes on and on). If this is the best politician Tea Party money can buy then the Tea Party won’t be around too long. If a State Senator needs to be rescued from herself by a University President then she has no business in the position.

  3. If she did slap someone they probably deserve it. No one is coming out and saying, “Yes she did!! She slapped me!!! Waaaa..” Come on Bibb you Know better!! The Tea party will always be around to save the liberals who think the government should take care of them! Also to make sure we do not slip in out military giving other countries more power than us. Us Tea party members understand it is important To have our defensive in place.(I am not going to argue about freaking wars with other countries here.) I will always be grateful for my freedom and never take it for granted and stand beside the men and women who fought for it!!

  4. Campbell courted TURF during the campaign and then threw them under the bus with bills like:
    SB 1029 – (which she authored) Gives TxDOT a blank check to convert free lanes already built and paid for into toll lanes — a DOUBLE tax. The original filed bill would have removed all the loopholes in statute, but it was gutted in committee and replaced with the final loophole-laden bill that keeps five loopholes — the first one giving TxDOT virtual unlimited authority to convert free lanes to toll lanes if it simply designates the project as ‘toll’ prior to going to contract. One of the loopholes taken out removes the accountability to the public by nixing the public hearing, public vote, and approval by the county commissioners. So the bill actually makes the current statute worse, not better. Further this legislation violates the Platform of the Republican Party of Texas by promoting conversion of free lanes to tolls.

  5. Donna Campbell is out of touch with her constituents’ values. She thinks she represents a district in the socially ultra conservative Texas panhandle.

  6. I regret my initial endorsement of her re-election. Was giving her the benefit of the doubt. But her homestead is not in SD 25, she was slow to learn the process of the Senate…like a bill she passes in the Senate must then go through the same process over in the House, among other things. Now the disrespect to her staff (I’m a former Chief of Staff of former Senator Jeff Wentworth) is way over the line. We in Senate District 25 deserve much better representation in the Texas Senate. I’m now voting for Mike Novak, a respected public servant.

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