5:23 talks about border
Go Rick Perry! This was poetry in motion. Rick Perry killed it today responding to the junk indictment against him by desparate Texas Democrats.
The Obama Administration Indicts Rick Perry To Intimidate Him, Obama Is A Corrupt SOB, Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg
, Associated Press
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — 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 run by the office of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg. Lehmberg, a Democrat, was convicted of drunken driving, but refused Perry’s calls to resign.
Though the Republican governor now faces two felony indictments, politics dominates the case. Lehmberg is based in Austin, which is heavily Democratic, in contrast to most of the rest of fiercely conservative Texas. The grand jury was comprised of Austin-area residents.
The unit Lehmberg oversees investigates statewide allegations of corruption and political wrongdoing. It led the investigation against former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a Texas Republican who in 2010 was convicted of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering for taking part in a scheme to influence elections in his home state — convictions later vacated by an appeals court.
Mary Anne Wiley, Perry’s general counsel, predicted Perry ultimately will be cleared of the charges against him — abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant.
“The veto in question was made in accordance with the veto authority afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution,” she said.
David L. Botsford, Perry’s defense attorney, whose $450-per hour fees are being paid for by state funds, said he was outraged by the action.
“This clearly represents political abuse of the court system and there is no legal basis in this decision,” Botsford said in a statement. “Today’s action, which violates the separation of powers outlined in the Texas Constitution, is nothing more than an effort to weaken the constitutional authority granted to the office of Texas governor, and sets a dangerous precedent by allowing a grand jury to punish the exercise of a lawful and constitutional authority afforded to the Texas governor.”
Several top aides to Perry appeared before grand jurors, including his deputy chief of staff, legislative director and general counsel. Perry himself did not testify, though.
Abuse of official capacity is a first-degree felony with potential punishments of five to 99 years in prison. Coercion of a public servant is a third-degree felony that carries a punishment of two to 10 years.
In office since 2000 and already the longest-serving governor in Texas history, Perry isn’t seeking re-election in November.
When he ran for president in 2012, Perry plummeted from brief front-runner to national punchline, his once promising campaign doomed by a series of embarrassing gaffes, including his infamous “Oops moment” during a debate.
As he eyes another White House run, Perry has re-made his cowboy image, donning stylish glasses, studying up on foreign and domestic affairs and promising conservatives nationally that he’s far more humble this time around.
Political observers say the indictment may not immediately hurt his standing with Republican primary voters — but Democrats didn’t miss a change to gloat Friday.
“Texans deserve real leadership and this is unbecoming of our governor,” Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement. He demanded that Perry immediately resign.
No one disputes that Perry is allowed to veto measures approved by the Legislature. 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.
“We’re pleased that the grand jury determined that the governor’s bullying crossed the line into illegal behavior,” said Craig McDonald, executive director of Texans for Public Justice. “The complaint had merit, serious laws were potentially broken.”
Michael McCrum, the San Antonio-based special prosecutor, said he “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.”
“Obviously that carries a lot of importance,” McCrum said. “But when it gets down to it, the law is the law.”
McCrum said he’ll meet with Botsford on Monday to discuss when he will come to the courthouse to be arraigned. McCrum said he doesn’t know when Perry will be booked.
Perry and other high-profile Republicans said Lehmberg should resign after she was arrested and pleaded guilty to drunken driving in April 2013. A video recording made at the jail showed Lehmberg shouting at staffers to call the sheriff, kicking the door of her cell and sticking her tongue out. Her blood-alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit for driving.
The indictment of Perry is the first of its kind since 1917, when James “Pa” Ferguson was indicted on charges stemming from his veto of state funding to the University of Texas in an effort to unseat faculty and staff members he objected to. Ferguson was eventually impeached, then resigned before being convicted.
Associated Press writer Jim Vertuno contributed to this report.
By Jon Herskovitz
AUSTIN Texas (Reuters) – Texas Governor Rick Perry, a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2016, said on Saturday an indictment against him for abuse of power was a political move that he intends to fight.
Perry was indicted on Friday by a grand jury in Travis County, a Democratic stronghold in the heavily Republican state, on two counts of abuse of power and coercion over a funding veto he made last year that was seen as being intended to force a local prosecutor to resign.
“This indictment amounts to nothing more than an abuse of power and I cannot and I will not allow that to happen,” Perry told reporters in Austin, Texas. He added he stood by the veto that led to charges being laid against him.
A probe was launched last year after Perry vetoed $7.5 million in funding for an integrity unit that is part of the Travis County district attorney’s office.
The veto was seen as hardball politics to force out county District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat, after she pleaded guilty to drunken driving and remained in office.
If convicted of the first-degree felony, Perry could be sentenced to between five and 99 years in jail while a conviction on the other charge can bring between two and 10 years in jail, a prosecutor said.
Perry is expected to survive the court battle but the trial could drag on for months, casting a shadow over his campaign and scaring away major donations, said Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston.
In the short run, Perry could use the legal battle to win support during Republican primaries by portraying himself as a staunch conservative being targeted in a politically motivated prosecution launched by Democrats, Jones said.
“This comes as Perry was gaining traction due to the immigration issue that saw him rise from an also-ran to a third-tier candidate in the Republican presidential race,” Jones said.
Republicans have long charged that they have been targeted by the Public Integrity Unit, run out of the Travis County prosecutor’s office. The unit has investigated prominent Republicans including former U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
After flaming out in the 2012 presidential race, Perry had been mounting a political comeback that gained him national attention for attacking President Barack Obama by saying he had not done enough to secure the border with Mexico.
Perry, the longest-serving governor in the state’s history and the first indicted in the state in about a century, was forced to exit the 2012 presidential race after gaffes including when he lost his train of thought during a debate and could not recall which government departments he wanted to abolish.
He is not seeking re-election as governor and will step down next year.
They say a prosecutor could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, and this always seemed like hyperbole, until Friday night a Texas grand jury announced an indictment of governor Rick Perry. The “crime” for which Perry faces a sentence of 5 to 99 years in prison is vetoing funding for a state agency. The conventions of reporting — which treat the fact of an indictment as the primary news, and its merit as a secondary analytic question — make it difficult for people reading the news to grasp just how farfetched this indictment is.
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg — a Democrat who oversees the state’s Public Corruption unit — was arrested for driving very, very drunk. What followed was a relatively ordinary political dispute. Perry, not unreasonably, urged Lehmberg to resign. Democrats, not unreasonably, resisted out of fear that Perry would replace her with a Republican. Perry, not unreasonably, announced and carried out a threat to veto funding for her agency until Lehmberg resigned.
I do not have a fancy law degree from Harvard or Yale or, for that matter, anywhere. I am but a humble country blogger. And yet, having read the indictment, legal training of any kind seems unnecessary to grasp its flimsiness.
Perry stands accused of violating two laws. One is a statute defining as an offense “misus[ing] government property, services, personnel, or any other thing of value belonging to the government that has come into the public servant’s custody or possession by virtue of the public servant’s office or employment.” The veto threat, according to the prosecutor, amounted to a “misuse.” Why? That is hard to say.
The other statute prohibits anybody in government from “influenc[ing] or attempt[ing] to influence a public servant in a specific exercise of his official power or a specific performance of his official duty or influenc[ing] or attempt[ing] to influence a public servant to violate the public servant’s known legal duty.”
But that statute also specifically exempts “an official action taken by the member of the governing body.” The prosecutors claim that, while vetoing the bill may be an official action, threatening a veto is not. Of course the threat of the veto is an integral part of its function. The legislature can hardly negotiate with the governor if he won’t tell them in advance what he plans to veto. This is why, when you say the word “veto,” the next word that springs to mind is “threat.” That’s how vetoes work.
The theory behind the indictment is flexible enough that almost any kind of political conflict could be defined as a “misuse” of power or “coercion” of one’s opponents. To describe the indictment as “frivolous” gives it far more credence than it deserves. Perry may not be much smarter than a ham sandwich, but he is exactly as guilty as one.
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