Fact Sheet: Everything You Need to Know About Texas Governor Rick Perry’s Corruption Indictment
An Austin grand jury has indicted Texas Governor Rick Perry for abusing his powers by threatening to veto millions in funding for the state’s public integrity unit, which was run by a state prosecutor investigating corruption that Perry tried to force to resign following her drunk driving arrest.
Perry is charged with felony counts of abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant. The maximum punishment for abuse of official capacity is five to 99 years in prison. The maximum punishment for the coercion charge is two to 10 years in prison.
According to reports, Perry threatened to veto $7.5 million in funding for the public integrity unit that was run by Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg.
Lehmberg had been arrested for DWI and was sentenced to 45 days in jail.
After Lehmberg refused to step down, Perry followed through on the threat and vetoed the funding.
Newser reports that, “No one disputes that he 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 since he threatened to use his veto before actually doing so in an attempt to pressure Lehmberg to quit.”
Perry, a 2016 presidential hopeful, has suddenly found some defenders on the left.
Top Obama adviser David Axelrod tweeted, “Unless he was demonstrably trying to scrap the ethics unit for other than his stated reason, Perry indictment seems pretty sketchy.”
Politico’s Ben White tweeted, “It seems quite perverse to indict a governor for exercising his clearly delineated constitutional authority.”
Although the governor certainly has veto power, he is being accused of trying to squash an investigation into one of his “favorite state projects.”
NPR’s Wade Goodwyn reports that “Lehmberg’s office was investigating one of Perry’s favorite state projects at the time he was calling for her resignation.”
The project in question is the allegedly corrupt Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. The center is being accused of handing out “fishy grants” that were being investigated.
Travis County is one of the most liberal counties in the state. If Lehmberg had resigned, Perry could have picked her successor rather than allowing another liberal DA to be voted in.
Some on the right are now trying to use footage following Lehmberg’s arrest to assassinate her character and make the indictment more about her than Perry’s actions.
Lehmberg’s blood alcohol content at the time of her arrest was almost three times the legal limit and footage from the jail shows her being combative, yelling, and having to be restrained by jailers.