This is ridiculous.
AUSTIN (KXAN) – A grand jury has handed up an indictment against Gov. Rick Perry in connection with the investigation into an effort to force Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg to resign.
Perry wanted Lehmberg to resign because she had been busted for drunk driving. It’s not good to have a drunk driver, captured on camera abusing the officers who arrested her, heading up the Public Integrity Unit.
At the center of the issue is a complaint about intimidation stemming from Perry’s threat to veto of $7.5 million in state funding to the Public Integrity Unit run by Lehmberg’s office. The threat came after she pleaded guilty to drunk driving and served a 45-day sentence; Perry called on her to step down but she refused to resign her position. Perry then vetoed the funding for the PIU.
A grand jury was called to determine whether or not Perry broke the law when he threatened to veto the funding. As a result they issued indictments on two felony charges: abuse of official capacity and coercion of public servant. If found guilty on the charges, Perry could be sentenced to a maximum 109 years in prison.
The office is funded by the state. As governor, Perry has veto power. Full stop.
This indictment is political. Every bit as political as the kangaroo court charges that former District Attorney Ronnie Earle, a Democrat, lodged against numerous Republicans over the years — both because that office is politicized, and Travis County is full of guttersnipes and fools.
But that doesn’t mean that the charges will get thrown out. The legal jeopardy to Perry is quite real.
Earle got former Rep. Tom Delay, Republican, convicted on crimes that were not even committed in Travis County, and were not even crimes at the time they were supposedly committed.
Those convictions were eventually thrown out, but not before Earle had totally destroyed Delay’s career and tainted the entire Republican Party — which was the goal all along.
More: This is the official Perry wanted to depart the Public Integrity Unit, Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg. Her drunk driving arrest really ought not to send Gov. Perry to prison, but this is Travis County we’re talking about. The threat to him is real.
Update: This is the same playbook the Democrats ran against Delay, no doubt about it. On the heels of the indictment, Texas Democrats are already calling for Perry to resign. These are the same people who have looked the other way while the DA, Rosemary Lehmberg, has remained in office even after her drunk driving escapades.
The Democrats will get a mugshot of Perry before long. They will use that to destroy his reputation and taint all Republicans.
It’s a hail Mary pass for the Wendy Davis campaign, of course. These people cannot win in this state on issues. So they are politicizing the legal system in on of their few strongholds.
Update: Perry responds (h/t Business Insider):
Not long after news of the indictment broke Friday evening, Perry’s office released a statement maintaining his innocence and declaring he “will ultimately prevail.”
“The veto in question was made in accordance with the veto authority afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution,” said Mary Anne Wiley, Perry’s general counsel. “We will continue to aggressively defend the governor’s lawful and constitutional action, and believe we will ultimately prevail.”
Update: Any doubt that this entire episode is political?
Here’s to suddenly loving the Texas legal process: Rick Perry indicted.
— Jim Messina (@Messina2012) August 15, 2014