Dear Commons Community,
Governor Rick Perry of Texas and Republican presidential candidate hopeful was indicted by a grand jury yesterday for allegedly abusing the powers of his office by carrying out a threat to veto funding for state prosecutors investigating public corruption.
A special prosecutor spent months calling witnesses and presenting evidence that Perry broke the law when he promised publicly to nix $7.5 million over two years for the public integrity unit run by the office of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg. As reported in The Dallas Morning News:
“Gov. Rick Perry was indicted on two felony counts for abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant late Friday by a Travis County grand jury.
The case stems from Perry’s vetoing the $7.5 million biennial funding for the Travis County Public Integrity Unit last year. He threatened to withhold the money unless District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg resigned.
In announcing the indictment, special prosecutor Michael McCrum of San Antonio said he felt confident of the charges brought against the governor and was “ready to go forward.”
Mary Anne Wiley, general counsel for the governor, said that Perry is being charged for exercising his rights and power as governor.
“The veto in question was made in accordance with the veto authority afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution. We will continue to aggressively defend the governor’s lawful and constitutional action, and believe we will ultimately prevail,” Wiley said.
Abuse of official capacity is a first-degree felony with punishment ranging from five to 99 years in prison, and coercion of a public servant is a third-degree felony with a penalty of two to 10 years.
The indictment immediately fueled partisan fighting. Perry is a conservative Republican indicted by a grand jury in a Democratic county. Regardless, the charges could cripple any chance of a second presidential campaign, which had been gathering some momentum in recent months.
In announcing the indictment, McCrum said that he weighed the duty he had in looking at a sitting governor.
“I took into account the fact that we’re talking about the governor of a state and the governor of the state of Texas, which we all love,” he said.
“Obviously, that carries a level of importance. But when it gets down to it, the law is the law,” McCrum said.”
Regardless of the outcome of this indictment, Rick Perry’s ambitions for the Republican nomination will be hurt and maybe derailed.