Rick Perry Indicted for Abuse of Power

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:

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.

"I'd write something smart and witty, but I'm too busy shoveling popcorn into my mouth. ..."

Looks Like Flynn Has Flipped on ..."
""Cognitive Dissonance?! You can't handle the Cognitive Dissonance!!""

AL Cop: We Were Told to ..."
"Sorry, Idiot has some minimal qualification, which Wrinklie here doesn't seem to meet..."

Catholic School to Punish Students for ..."
"Ahhhh, the ole Befehl is Befehl argument.Same ole medieval mindset, same ole medieval results.Don't let ..."

Catholic School to Punish Students for ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Randomfactor

    It’s said they were going to indict on a third count, but they didn’t want to confuse Gov. Goodhair.

    Who himself is totally straight, wink wink.

  • dingojack

    Well, I’ve gotta say I never expected that! *

    Dingo

    ——–

    * must be the Spanish Inquisition!

    :0

  • dmcclean

    Hard to believe that Fischer wants to free the countless “bad guys” that this DA has presumably already sought indictments against. Is there anyone who isn’t “soft on crime”?

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    To be fair, Fischer is just lashing out after finding out that “lesbian prosecutor” is a prosecutor who’s a lesbian, and not a prosecutor of lesbians.

  • Alverant

    I would think the way he sabotaged the investigation into whether or not Texas executed an innocent person would count. I guess not.

  • colnago80

    Randomfactor @ #1

    Rumor has it that Perry is about as straight as a corkscrew.

  • Doc Bill

    This really pisses me off, Ed!

    You stole my “oops” joke!

    No curry for you!

    According to my sources who are totally no-account, Perry was totally NOT EXPECTING the grand jury to come up with anything solid. His Bubble People assured him that everything was hunky dorey with the veto, according to Vito.

    However, there were those little details of extortion and bribery but minor stuff, hardly worth losing sleep over.

    In the past year or so the Houston Chronicle has run a cartoon strip, Friends of Perry, detailing how public money ends up (how conveeeeeeenient!) into private pockets. The guy has been buying campaign donations for years and just keeps getting away with it. One of my dubious sources told me that Perry was SO used to getting his own way, about everything, that he was struttin’ high prior to the grand jury report. I wish I could have seen the look on his face when the hammer came down.

  • ebotebo

    I’ve heard (through a very reliable source) that Governor Perry gets off being juked by a baby octopus and spewed upon with creamed corn!

  • Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    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.

    Now I immediately wonder whether the drunk driving charge was substantiated. >.>

    PS: why does hitting Tab no longer switch to the type-in box?

  • laplanck

    Azkyroth @9:

    It was substantiated, all right. The blood test they ran when they took her back to the station came back with a .239. And that’s likely at least an hour after she was pulled over, meaning it was probably higher when she was driving. She pled guilty without conditions for a reason.

  • dhall

    According to a few articles I read about this–the Raw Story one and Rachel Maddow blog–the DA pled guilty, as the evidence on video was pretty damning. She paid a fine and spent a short stint in jail, but she refused to resign from her position. So, it looks like the DUI was legitimate. As to whether or not she should have resigned, maybe that should have been left to the will of those who elected her rather than the absentee governor?

  • magistramarla

    Azkyroth,

    I wondered the same thing.

    Apparently, the DA was arrested with an open bottle of vodka in her car and had 3 times the legal limit in her blood.

    Some of the reports I’ve seen said that she claimed to have had a couple of glasses of wine at either a friend’s home or a lounge, and didn’t remember drinking any vodka. There were also reports that she had bought a huge number of bottles of vodka from a particular liquor store in Austin over the course of a year.

    There is video of her being drunk and belligerent in a jail cell.

    I’m wondering if she could have been set up. She didn’t contest the charge, but I still wonder about it.

    If I had been set up like that, I think that I would have been 1) angry enough to kick a jail cell door and 2) scared enough to not contest any charges, especially if I wanted to remain in the job to keep investigating the bastards.

    She could be innocent, or she could be a drunk – either way it doesn’t matter. I read today that two other DAs in Texas have been guilty of DUIs and Perry never said a thing. Of course, they were both male and Republican.

  • dhall

    #12 – Makes you wonder if there’s something about being a DA in that state that drives people to drink . . .

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    Now I immediately wonder whether the drunk driving charge was substantiated.

    From what I’ve read, yes. Her BAL was still 3 times over the legal limit several hours after her arrest.

    And threatening to veto a bill unless she resigns is surely a dick move, but I doubt it’s illegal.

  • laplanck

    Area Man @14:

    As Jonathan Chait put it:

    But that statute also specifically exempts “an official action taken by the member of the governing body.” The prosecutors claim that, while vetoing the bill may be an official action, threatening a veto is not. Of course the threat of the veto is an integral part of its function. The legislature can hardly negotiate with the governor if he won’t tell them in advance what he plans to veto. This is why, when you say the word “veto,” the next word that springs to mind is “threat.” That’s how vetoes work.

    At some point, these prosecutions resting on creative theories of public corruption (including others such as Tom DeLay, John Edwards, and Don Siegelman) start to look less like efforts to enforce violations of the law and more like the criminalization of politics.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    None of the reports I’ve read about this so far has answered the question these reports raise in my mind: just who appointed the “special prosecutor” who led the grand jury to issue Perry’s indictment while he and the Austin DA carried out their feud?

    Misbehavior by a Texas governor seems all too plausible – but dirty tricks by a Texas DA wouldn’t exactly strain my eyebrow-lifting muscles either.

  • D. C. Sessions

    Rumor has it that Perry is about as straight as a corkscrew.

    Someone remind me why this is any of our damn business, please.

  • D. C. Sessions

    And that’s likely at least an hour after she was pulled over, meaning it was probably higher when she was driving.

    Could go either way, depending on what was in her stomach.

  • abb3w

    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too:

    Now I immediately wonder whether the drunk driving charge was substantiated.

    Enough for her to plead guilty — “45 days in jail and a $4,000 fine under a plea agreement”.

  • colnago80

    Re D.C. Sessions @ #17

    It’s our business because closeted Rick Perry is a two fisted gay basher. Closeted gay bashers have forfeited their right to keep their private lives private.

  • marcus

    colnago @ 20 beat me to it, but yes, it is useful to know if a public official is not only a bigot but a bigot, a hypocrite and a liar.

  • marcus

    PS Though I do take exception to the derogatory nature of the phrase “…as straight as a corkscrew.” It would be sufficient to say that Perry is a homosexual (if that is indeed the truth).

  • colnago80

    Re marcus @ #22

    Actually, if would be more accurate to say that he is reputed to be a switch hitter.

  • eric

    So, Perry’s camp is arguing that it’s perfectly legal for Obama to cut off all federal funding to Texas until it’s Republican representatives and senators resign in favor of Democrats?

  • magistramarla

    Pierce Butler@16,

    These two links to my local newspaper might help to answer your question:

    As I understand it, the special prosecutor was appointed by a judge who happens to be a repub.

    http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local/article/Special-prosecutor-strikes-back-at-Perry-lawyer-5692947.php

    http://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/editorials/article/Perry-s-veto-was-political-not-criminal-5694314.php

  • magistramarla

    One more link:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-moore/why-rick-perry-will-be-co_b_5686664.html

    This one directly answers your questions.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    magistramarla @ # 25/26 – Ah, the murky becomes clear(er).

    So much for thinking there might be some doubt to give Rick Perry benefit of. When will I ever learn?

    Thanks much!

  • dingojack

    Bryan Fischer @BryanJFischer

    Follow

    I’ve just received credible information that Gov. Perry who has been indicted by the D.A. is about as straight as a corkscrew. Abuse of power, anyone?”

    @@

    Dingo