Gov. Rick Perry of Texas has been indicted by a grand jury on two charges of abuse of power for threatening to veto a bill to fund an anti-corruption task force if the district attorney in charge of it was not removed from power. There was a third charge, but the grand jury forgot what it was. Oops.
A grand jury indicted Gov. Rick Perry on two felony counts on Friday, charging that he abused his power last year when he attempted to pressure the district attorney here, a Democrat, to step down by threatening to cut off state financing to her office.
The indictment left Mr. Perry, a Republican, the first Texas governor in nearly 100 years to face criminal charges and presented a major roadblock to his presidential ambitions at the very time that he had been showing signs of making a comeback.
Grand jurors in Travis County charged Mr. Perry with abusing his official capacity and coercing a public servant, according to Michael McCrum, the special prosecutor assigned to the case.
The long-simmering case has centered on Mr. Perry’s veto power as governor. His critics asserted that he used that power as leverage to try to get an elected official — Rosemary Lehmberg, the district attorney in Travis County — to step down after her arrest on a drunken-driving charge last year. Ms. Lehmberg is Austin’s top prosecutor and oversees a powerful public corruption unit that investigates state, local and federal officials; its work led to the 2005 indictment of a former Republican congressman, Tom DeLay, on charges of violating campaign finance laws.
Following Ms. Lehmberg’s arrest, Mr. Perry and his aides threatened to veto $7.5 million in state funding for the public corruption unit in her office unless she resigned. The governor followed through on his threat, vetoing the money by stating that he could not 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.”Mr. Perry’s detractors said that his moves crossed the line from hardball politics to criminal acts that violated state laws. His aides denied that he did anything wrong and said that he acted in accordance with the veto power granted to every governor under the Texas Constitution. Ms. Lehmberg did not resign and remains in office.
Bear in mind that, as the old saying goes, you can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. Making such charges stick will be far more difficult. If I were a betting man (and I am), I’d bet that he gets acquitted.
Always one to put his bigotry on display, Bryan Fischer immediately tweeted this out:
I've just received credible information that the D.A. who indicted Gov. Perry is an open lesbian. Abuse of power, anyone?
— Bryan Fischer (@BryanJFischer) August 16, 2014
Okay, first of all it was a grand jury that indicted him. Second of all, why the fuck would it be an abuse of power for a DA to indict someone just because she’s a lesbian? Oh, right — because Fischer is a fucking bigot who thinks anything gay people do, including breathe, must be wrong.