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.
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 IT: RICK 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.”