Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been indicted on two felony charges for, as the Associated Press breathlessly put it, “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.”
What he actually did: Perry vetoed funding for the office of a Democratic Travis County district attorney who had been convicted of drunk driving and refused to resign from her position, after he had said he would veto the funding in an effort to get her to step down.
The drunk, er Democrat, was Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg. Lehmberg was captured on video the night of her arrest kicking her cell door, verbally abusing officers and finally having to be restrained in a special chair. On the video, Lehmberg keeps asking officers if they’ve “called Greg,” a reference to the county sheriff, with the implication that he wouldn’t allow Lehmberg to be arrested.
Lehmberg later apologized publicly for her behavior and pleaded guilty to drunk-driving, receiving a 45-day sentence. She refused to step down from her office, even though Texas law lists public drunkenness as one of three reasons for removing a district attorney.
The charges Perry now faces — abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant — will present a stumbling block as the Texas governor was considering another run for president in 2016.
Mary Anne Wiley, Perry’s general counsel, said, “The veto in question was made in accordance with the veto authority afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution.”
His defense attorney David L. Botsford, who the AP gleefully points out makes $450 per hour, said, “This clearly represents political abuse of the court system and there is no legal basis in this decision. Today’s action, which violates the separation of powers outlined in the Texas Constitution, is nothing more than an effort to weaken the constitutional authority granted to the office of Texas governor, and sets a dangerous precedent by allowing a grand jury to punish the exercise of a lawful and constitutional authority afforded to the Texas governor.”
The grand jury indictment was the result of an investigation spurred by a complaint filed by Texans for Public Justice, one of those annoying Democratic Party front groups that exists just to dog Republican officials. The grand jury was seated in the heavily Democratic city of Austin.
The whole situation is just a Democratic Party power play, from start to finish. No doubt the plan was discovered at the bottom of Lehmberg’s wine glass and party officials signed on out of enthusiasm for screwing with Perry, a potential presidential front-runner.
Speaking of abuse of official capacity, guys …