Some shocking late breaking news tonight, as a Grand Jury has accused Texas Governor Rick Perry of abusing his Gubernatorial Powers. Here’s the story from the Texas Tribune…
A grand jury indicted Gov. Rick Perry on Friday on two felony counts, alleging he abused his power by threatening to veto funding for the state’s anti-corruption prosecutors unless Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, who had pleaded guilty to drunk driving, stepped down from office.
The first count returned from a grand jury, abuse of official capacity, is a first-degree felony with a potential penalty of five to 99 years in prison. The second count, coercion of a public servant, is a third-degree felony with a penalty of two to 10 years.
Perry’s legal counsel, Mary Ann Wiley, said Perry would vigorously fight the charges.
“The veto in question was made in accordance with the veto authority afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution,” she said. “We will continue to aggressively defend the governor’s lawful and constitutional action, and believe we will ultimately prevail.”
Other than the pledge to fight the charges, the Governor has said very little of the issue himself thus far, instead letting his taxpayer-funded legal counsel speak on his behalf.
As one can imagine, the news has launched a complete frenzy among Texas Democrats. Within minutes of the official news wire, Democrat and left-leaning groups had blasted fundraising emails all over the planet.
Perry’s questionable actions are not about the specific situations here. No one will argue that the Governor of Texas has the ability to issue a line-item veto. He was also well within his power to make a public call for Lehmberg’s resignation, if that’s what he thought would be best for the Office of Public Integrity and the people of Texas. But the problem lies in Perry’s motivation to use that power. You cannot issue a threat to an individual and punish an entire responsibility of government for their actions. At least on it’s face, the Governor has never given any reason for why the entire OPI should be defunded other than his personal preference that Lehmberg leave her job.
There is much left to sort out here, but one thing is for sure… This is an historic event for the Lone Star State. Though probably not the type of history Rick Perry was wanting.
UPDATE: On Saturday August 16th, Governor Perry responded to the indictment, calling it a “farce” and promising to vigorously defend his decision.