More Texas political games, or the real thing?
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.
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.
An indictment indicates the grand jury believes the state has a strong enough case to send to trial and is not a finding of guilt. Special prosecutor Michael McCrum oversaw the presentation to the grand jury who has been meeting on and off this summer and returned the indictment Friday afternoon.
“The first count of abuse of official capacity. It basically charges that on the day of the veto in 2013 that Governor Perry intentionally or knowingly misused government property that had come into his custody or control,” McCrum said Friday afternoon.
More details and analysis to follow from Amy (in Texas).
UPDATE: Governor Perry’s general counsel has issued the following statement:
“The veto in question was made in accordance with the veto authority afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution.,” Perry’s general counsel, Mary Anne Wiley, said in a statement responding to the indictment. “We will continue to aggressively defend the governor’s lawful and constitutional action, and believe we will ultimately prevail.”
Here is the footage of Rosemary Lehmberg’s booking. According to court records, a blood test taken the night of the arrest showed that Lehmberg’s BAC was .239–almost three times the legal limit for driving.
The question remains whether or not Perry the Potential Presidential Candidate will be able to use this video as a way to protect his reputation with voters.
You can read a copy of the indictment here via Slate:DONATE
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