This appears like a leftist effort to get Perry for actually going after corruption. Gee, ya think someone is trying to take Perry out of the 2016 race? He just announced last month he was running, and many were taking another look at him as a viable candidate.
A grand jury indicted Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Friday for abusing the powers of his office by carrying out a threat to veto funding for state prosecutors investigating public corruption — making the possible 2016 presidential hopeful his state’s first indicted governor in nearly a century.
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, which is run by Travis County District Rosemary Lehmberg’s office. Several top aides to the Republican governor appeared before grand jurors in Austin, including his deputy chief of staff, legislative director and general counsel. Perry himself wasn’t called to testify.
He was indicted by an Austin grand jury on felony counts of abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant. Maximum punishment on the first charge is five to 99 years in prison. The second is two to 10 years.
Perry said Lehmberg, who is based in Austin, should resign after she was arrested and plead guilty to drunken driving in April 2013. A video recording made at the jail showed Lehmberg shouting at staffers to call the sheriff, kicking the door of her cell and sticking her tongue out.
Perry was with his veto was criticizing the ethics of the very office behind the effort to indict him:
The indictments stemmed from Perry’s threat last summer to withhold $7.2 million in state money from Lehmberg’s office unless she step down – a threat he later carried out by vetoing an appropriation in the state budget. The money was earmarked for the state’s Public Integrity Unit, which is housed in Lehmberg’s office. Perry’s veto forced Travis County taxpayers to partially fund the office, but several prosecutors and staff lost their jobs or had to be reassigned.
Lehmberg supporters said Perry’s actions constituted political retribution; Many Republicans have said the Public Integrity Unit has unfairly targeted their party for prosecutions. The Travis County District Attorney’s office has for decades been led by Democrats, including Lehmberg.
Had Lehmberg resigned, Perry would have named her replacement.
Mary Anne Wiley, General Counsel for Perry, said in a statement following the indictment: “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.”
Immediately, after the indictment was announced, Perry, who is poised to make a second run for president, tweeted: “Help RickPAC elect candidates who support a strong border, new jobs, smaller gov’t, and fiscal responsibility.”
Travis County deputies arrested and charged Lehmberg with DWI in April 2013. She later pled guilty and was sentenced to 45 days in jail – an usually harsh sentence for a first-time drunken driving charge. She later prevailed in a civil lawsuit to remove her from office.
After his veto, Perry said, “Despite the otherwise good work (of) the Public Integrity Unit’s employees, I cannot in good conscience support continued state funding for an office with statewide jurisdiction at a time when the person charged with ultimate responsibility of that unit has lost the public’s confidence.”
And yes, there is an old lawyer joke that a DA can indict a “ham sandwich”, meaning pretty much anyone can get indicted if the DA wants to get you. Far cry from a conviction.