The Associated Press is reporting that on Friday a grand jury indicted Texas Gov. Rick Perry for abusing the powers of his office. Perry carried out a threat to veto funding for state prosecutors who were investigating public corruption. This makes Perry the first indicted governor in nearly a century.
We’ve actually been reporting this story for a year, since?Liberal America writer Dan Boyd wrote “Rick Perry Has A (Huge) Scandal And The Media Isn’t Noticing” in August 2013.
The charges come after Perry’s 2013 veto threat, which would have withheld $7.5 million in funding for the Public Integrity Office if its leader, District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, refused to resign her post. Lehmberg was arrested for driving drunk but declined to step down, saying instead she would not seek reelection in 2016. Perry carried out his threat using a line-item veto on a state budget appropriations bill, sparking a showdown with a grand jury.
The Austin American Statesman reports that the amount was $7.2 million.
The indictment comes after a special prosecutor spent months researching, calling witnesses, and showing evidence to prove that the embattled Texas governor broke the law. Perry wasn’t called to testify, but appearing in court were several of Perry’s top aides, including his general counsel, deputy chief of staff, and legislative director.
A copy of the indictment against Texas Governor Rick Perry: pic.twitter.com/EurECsZ6sH
— KVR News (@KVRNews) August 15, 2014
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg was arrested for DWI in April 2013. During her arrest, she was handcuffed and “leg-ironed.” She pled guilty and was sentenced to 45 days in jail, which was a harsher than normal sentence for a first-time drunk driving charge. A later civil lawsuit attempted to remove her from office and she won.
Perry’s statement at the time:
?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.?
The Travis County DA office has been led by Democrats for decades. Lehmberg herself is a Democrat. Had she resigned as Perry wished, he would have named her replacement. Not that it’s relevant to this story, but it bears mentioning that Rosemary Lehmberg is gay.
Naturally, Perry, 63, and his aides claim that he didn’t break any laws. A statement from spokeswoman Lucy Nashed in April:
“The veto in question was made in accordance with the veto power afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution, and we remain ready and willing to assist with this inquiry.”
Rick Perry is the longest serving Texas governor.
Perry?was indicted by a grand jury in Austin, Texas on felony counts of abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant. The maximum punishment?on the charge of abuse of official capacity is five to 99 years in prison, and the maximum?punishment on coercion of a public servant is two to 10 years in prison.
h/t to our friends at Liberaland
Tiffany Willis is the founder and editor-in-chief of Liberal America. An unapologetic member of the Christian Left, she has spent most of her career actively working with ?the least of these? and disadvantaged and oppressed populations. She’s passionate about their struggles. To stay on top of topics she discusses,?like her?Facebook page,?follow her on Twitter, or?connect with her via LinkedIn. She also has?a?grossly neglected personal blog?and a?literary quotes blog that is a labor of love. Find her somewhere and join the discussion.