Texas Governor Perry Indicted in Texas-Sized Partisan Shoot-Out

Partisan politics

Texas Governor Rick Perry has been indicted by a grand jury for “abuse of power.”

His crime? He vetoed funding for the Travis County District Attorney’s office after District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg refused to resign after she was convicted of a DWI.

Governor Perry was indicted on two felonies: Abuse of Official Capacity, and Coercion of Public Servant.

District Attorney Lehmberg was arrested for drunk driving in April of 2013. She was fined and sentenced to 45 days in jail. She actually served 21 of those 45 days. She has not resigned.

What has followed appears to be partisan politics from both sides of the argument. There were the usual outraged calls from Texas Republican legislators that District Attorney Lehmberg resign. This always happens when a political figure is in disgrace. Members of the opposite political party call for their resignation.

But, she didn’t resign.

She was subsequently investigated by a grand jury that decided she should be allowed to say in office. An Austin attorney brought a civil suit for the purposes of removing her from office under Texas statute. She won this case in court, which again left her in office legally.

This year, Governor Perry vetoed funding for the Travis County District Attorney’s office. A group called Texans for Public Justice filed an ethics complaint accusing the governor of coercion for attempting to use his veto to force District Attorney Lehmberg to quit.

It appears to me that what we have here is a case of partisan politics running out of control on both sides of this debate. If District Attorney Lehmberg holds her office legally, Governor Perry has no business vetoing funding because he, personally, finds her behavior inappropriate. It does, on the surface, have the appearance of an attempt to coerce her to leave an office that she legally holds.

Indicting Governor Perry for two felonies in a game of partisan gotcha is destructive to the max, as well.

This whole business of trying to remove people from office or end their careers by using felony indictments to destroy them because they are of the opposite party is outrageous. I don’t have any doubt that this is exactly what is going on here.

I can guarantee that if Attorney General Lehmberg had been a Republican instead of a Democrat, the “outraged” politicians at the state capitol would have all switched sides. The Ds would have been outraged and Rs, not so much.

If Attorney General Lehmberg was a Republican, would Governor Perry have vetoed funding for the Travis County DA’s office? I doubt it. I think that if she had been an R, he would have said “the law is the law, and she’s in office legally, my hands are tied” and signed the funding without debate.

If Governor Perry was a Democrat, would Texans for Public Justice have filed the lawsuit that resulted in this indictment? Would a Republican version of the same thing would have filed one instead?

My point is that if the people involved switched their party affiliations, everybody else would switch sides right along with them. That’s because this is not a legitimate deal on anybody’s part. It’s all politics. Dirty. Nasty. Destructive politics.

The fact that we are talking about trying to force someone out of office for partisan reasons is outrageous.

It is also a terrible thing to drag anyone into our courts of law under felony charges. It doesn’t matter if they are a governor or a paper boy. No one should ever be put through that hell for any reason except legitimate ones.

This DWI conviction of a local politician is small political potatoes. She did the crime. She did the time. Let the people of Travis County Texas sort it out. That is, after all, their right.

It should have stopped there.

It would have stopped there except for the vicious insanity of take-no-prisoners partisan politics.

I would go on, except that this is Texas we’re talking about. They do everything big down there; including their partisan shoot-outs. Let’s just watch and see what happens next.

From ABC13 Eyewitness News:

AUSTIN, TX (KTRK) –A grand jury indicted Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Friday for allegedly 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.

A special prosecutor spent months calling witnesses and presenting evidence that Perry broke the law when he promised publicly to nix $7.5 million over two years for the public integrity unit, which is run by Travis County Democratic District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg’s office. It’s the same office that indicted U.S. Rep. Tom Delay as part of a finance probe.

Several top aides to the Republican governor appeared before grand jurors in Austin, including his deputy chief of staff, legislative director and general counsel. Perry himself did not testify, though.

READ ITRICK PERRY INDICTMENT

Grand jurors indicted Perry on abuse of official capacity, a first-degree felony with potential punishments of five to 99 years in prison, and coercion of a public servant, a third-degree felony that carries a punishment of two to 10 years.

No one disputes that Perry is allowed to veto measures approved by the Legislature, including part or all of the state budget. But the left-leaning Texans for Public Justice government watchdog group filed an ethics complaint accusing the governor of coercion because he threatened to use his veto before actually doing so in an attempt to pressure Lehmberg to quit.

“I took into account the fact that we’re talking about a governor of a state – and a governor of the state of Texas, which we all love,” said Michael McCrum, the San Antonio-based special prosecutor. “Obviously that carries a lot of importance. But when it gets down to it, the law is the law.”

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  • FW Ken

    I do love being a Texan!

  • AnneG

    The same technique was also used against Tom Delay. I hate lawyers. This is Austin vs the rest of Texas as well. The governor of Texas has very little power, but he does have budget veto power.
    If this had been a Republican DA in Austin, she or he would have resigned after the arrest.
    I know it is partisan but it is Texas. You know, the only thing in the middle of the road is the yellow line and a dead armadillo.

    • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

      The Democrats in Texas are desperate and pulling out all their dirty tricks. What a bunch of slime.

    • pesq87

      I’m a lawyer. Don’t hate.

  • pagansister

    More politics!

  • Lark62

    I don’t know a lot about the situation with Gov. Perry. From what I’ve read, it does sound like he abused his authority: “Unless you do what I say, I will use my authority as Governor to hurt your government office.”

    That said, I completely agree with you on the fact that all too often people judge the political label not the action. If something is right, it is right whether the person proposing it/doing it is R or D. If something is wrong, it is wrong whether the label is R or D.

    Example: Whatever you think the ACA (aka Obamacare), it was first proposed by a Republican think tank and implemented by the Republican governor of Mass. The “socialist” “evil” “the sky is falling” noise was hypocritical. There are some good reasons to like the ACA, there are some good reasons to dislike it. Like you, I wish we could discuss the merits rather than instant hate because it was recommended by the wrong initial, D or R.

    What I do to try to keep myself honest, is to change the labels. If I find myself reacting strongly to something, I ask myself what my reaction would be if the person were a different political party or different religion or different race or different whatever.

  • AnneG

    Rebecca, a few facts have been overlooked. The DA lost her law license for 180 days, for example. Her blood alcohol was. .23. She assaulted and threatened the police and tried to use her influence with the police chief to get cut free. Read the link. And, she spent 21 days of the 45 day sentence in jail.

    http://pjmedia.com/tatler/2014/08/16/travis-county-da-rosemary-lehmbergs-drinking-problem-and-abuse-of-power-by-the-staggering-numbers/?singlepage=true

    • hamiltonr

      It appears that she is still in office legally. That’s the salient point.

    • FW Ken

      Anne,

      It’s common for county jails to credit two days for every day served, three if they are a trustee. Plus she would get credit for the day she was arrested and the next day if she got out after midnight. Also, she could have done work release for part of the sentence.

  • Sandro Palmyra

    I don’t know much about the investigation of Gov. Perry or whether the charges against him are appropriate. I do not think that he is a contender for the presidency, hasn’t been since his meltdown in the 2012 primary race and is not repairable for 2016.

  • AnneG

    One more thing, Rebecca. After watching the tape of the arrest, her ride in the police car and at the jail, I heard her say a number of times, “Do you know who I am?” Whenever I’ve had that happen to me, I knew this was somebody who thought they were important and above me and whatever authority I operated under. It is inappropriate for a DA. I wonder how many times she got out of DWIs using that line. That’s the issue, isn’t it?

    • hamiltonr

      I think the whole issue is just partisan politics, on both sides.

      Whether or not she got out of other DWIs I do not know.

      • AnneG

        I am judging from my experience with the “do you know who I am” crowd. Sometimes even politicians do the right thing.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    What a sham political attack on Gov Perry. He had every right to hold back funds for an embarressment of a D.A. If she had any notion of a public servant she would have resigned. This indictment will be laughed at and thrown out. This is only going to make Perry stronger in the end. This was a blatent political attack on someone who was trying to do the right thing. Gov. Perry will be pushed into the lead in the 2016 presidential race because of this. Yay!

    And no, if the parties were reveresed in this case I would not switch my opinion. Lehmbertg was a disgrace and needed to be pushed out.

    • hamiltonr

      The trouble Manny, is that several attempts were made to “push” her out legally and they failed. She may be a disgrace, but she is a duly elected official, legally holding her office. It really is up to the people of Travis County Texas to decide whether or not she stays in office.

      As for Governor Perry, he really didn’t have any business vetoing appropriations for the Travis Country District Attorney’s office because he found the behavior of the District Attorney “inappropriate.”

      This is partisan right down to the ground, on both sides. It’s about a DWI of a local politician that has become a national story precisely because of the dubious behavior of everyone involved.

      What I meant when I said that everyone would switch sides is that the POLITICIANS involved would switch sides. If the DA had been an R, the Ds would have been outraged and called for her resignation and the governor would have signed the appropriation with the explanation that she was legally elected and it was up to the voters of Travis county.

      Any attempts to indict the governor would flip sides, as well. Indicting people for political reasons — which is what is happening — is outrageous. It smacks of a coup. Both parties play at this and we the people need to get wise to that.

      These people are NOT sincere about this Manny. They don’t care one bit about the drunk driving arrest or the DA’s drunken rambles during that arrest. They are just playing it for political advantage.

      This happens every time an elected official stubs their toe in public. Every single time.

      • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

        Rebecca, very little about politics is sincere. That’s somethig that’s given in every single political issue. Does Gov Perry have a right to veto legislation? I believe the answer to that is yes. He has that right no matter what the reason, even if he doesn’t like the way someone brushes their mustache. The fact that this woman disgraced herself in public gave Perry a reason to veto it, whether he did it for political reasons or not. The idictment against Perry is completely unjustified and I guarentee he will be vindicated, if the charges are outright thrown out. Perry had every right to veto it, they had no right to indict him. The Dems in Texas have now done something similar three times: kay Baily Hutchinson in 1994, Tom Delay, and now Gov. Perry. Also look up Allan Dershowitz’s statement on this.
        http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Alan-Dershowitz-Rick-Perry-indictment/2014/08/18/id/589413/
        I know the Dems have filed ethics charges on my Congressman on ethics charges, for the way he ran his restaurant business before he was even elected. The Dems are doing this across the country as they get desparate in losing all branches of governent.

        • hamiltonr

          What you’re saying would certainly be true in Oklahoma. We don’t have a statute like the one they used to indict Governor Perry in Texas. When I say that was not a reason to veto, I mean it was stupid and, yes, an abuse of power. However, is this indictment political payback and nothing else? Oh yeah. No disagreement there.

          • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

            Why was it stupid? She was a disgrace to the office. Is drunk driving not a serious issue? What if she had murdered someone and was hanging around until the trial? He didn’t try to replace her with a political crony. Another Democrat would have filled her place. What’s wrong with that?

            • hamiltonr

              Well … it opened him up to indictment for one thing. That’s pretty stupid.

              You can’t seem to get past the idea that even though she was in disgrace, she was legally elected and holding her office legally. Governors don’t have any business deciding that they don’t like someone’s behavior and can bully them out of office because they don’t like their behavior. The voters get to make that call.

              • AnneG

                Perry vetoed one line item of the Texas budget that paid part of the Ethics budget for Travis County. The only thing he did wrong was say why he was doing it. That would have been plain politics. There is a saying about being able to indict a ham sandwich.
                I do think that if a an elected official is arrested for DWI and sent to jail, they should get fired. If they are law enforcement officers like a DA, they should be completely disbarred. Don’t care about their party.

        • FW Ken

          Manny,

          He didn’t veto the money, he threatened to if she didn’t quit, which is coercion, at least attempted.

          There is long history between the state officials and the Travis County DA. The business with Kay Bailey Hutchinson is only part of it. BTW, don’t assume that because Ronnie Earle didn’t make the case, they’re wasn’t a case to be made.

          • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

            All vetos are coercion. There is nothing wrong or illegal about it. He rightly pointed out her behavior was disgraceful. He didn’t try to replace her with a political crony. Another Democrat would have filled her place. This will get thrown out and make Perry politidally stronger..

            • hamiltonr

              We’ll have to let the jury decide that Manny.


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