Texas governor Rick Perry indicted by grand jury

If you’re reading this blog, you’ve no doubt heard the news that Republican Gov. Rick Perry of Texas was indicted by a grand jury on charges he abused his power.

A grand jury has indicted Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, saying he abused his power by trying to pressure a district attorney to resign.

The two felony counts against Perry, a Republican, stem from his threat to veto funding for a statewide public integrity unit run by Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg unless she stepped down, the special prosecutor in the case, Michael McCrum, said.

Think Progress has more detail on the circumstances surrounding Perry’s indictment.

As the Texas Observer explains, this indictment arises out of a dispute over who will hold one of the few Texas offices with statewide power that is still controlled by a Democrat. Rosemary Lehmberg is that Democrat, and she is the District Attorney for Travis County, Texas. Because Travis County includes Austin, the state capital, her office controls a Public Integrity Unit that investigates alleged ethical breaches by state-level politicians. Among other things, that unit investigated the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, which is accused of improperly distributing grant money — including some grant money that was given to people with close ties to Governor Perry.

In April of 2013, however, Lehmberg was arrested for driving while very, very intoxicated. Hours after her arrest, her blood alcohol level was three times above Texas’ legal limit. She eventually pleaded guilty and spent a few weeks in jail. Yet Lehmberg has refused to step down from her role as District Attorney. According to the Observer, this is because she does not want Perry to have the opportunity to replace her with a Republican.

Perry allegedly crossed the line from an eager partisan hoping to replace a powerful official to a governor who broke the law, however, when he threatened to veto funding for the Public Integrity Unit unless Lehmberg resigned — and then he followed through on this threat. According to one count of the indictment, Perry “by means of coercion . . . influenced or attempted to influence Rosemary Lehmberg . . . in the specific performance of her official duty” — that duty being her obligation “to continue to carry out her responsibilities” as Travis County D.A.


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2 thoughts on “Texas governor Rick Perry indicted by grand jury

  1. WI doesn’t have a public integrity unit per se, but that kind of alleged coercion reminds me of the limitation on available funds for the involved DA’s and John Doe prosecutors, seemingly steming the pursuit of justice at several junctures (iirc) this past spring. No time currently to go back and research the timeline and details, but this was my initial thought upon reading this story yesterday.

  2. Rick Perry will have his day in court to prove his innocence just as did Charles Manson.

    Legally, I don’t have a clue, but using the governor’s legitimate veto power to deny operating funds to force the head,elected by the people, of a legitimate government agency to resign seems to me to be an abuse of power. It begs the question, is Perry the God of Texas too?

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