A Texas grand jury is moving forward with charges against longstanding Texas Governor Rick Perry, who is accused of abusing his veto power to strong-arm a political opponent into resigning.
Perry sought the resignation of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, who was criticized heavily following her April 2013 DWI arrest. Lehmberg was filmed by police behaving belligerently, issuing threats to officers and lashing out in fits of rage. Her blood alcohol level was three times the allowable state limit.
Watch how she acted in jail:
Despite her arrest and subsequent humiliation, though, Lehmberg did not resign.
Perry then promised to veto funding for Texas’ Public Integrity Unit, a department specializing in investigating elected officials headed up by Lehmberg. When Lehmberg still didn’t resign, Perry followed through.
“Despite the otherwise good work the Public Integrity Unit’s employees, I cannot in good conscience support continued state funding for an office with statewide jurisdiction at a time when the person charged with ultimate responsibility of that unit has lost the public’s confidence,” Perry said at the time regarding the veto.
“This unit is in no other way held accountable to state taxpayers, except through the state budgetary process. I therefore object to and disapprove of this appropriation.”
Dems vowed revenge, and now the governor faces indictments on two felony charges: abuse of official capacity, which carries a penalty of five to 99 years, and coercion of public servant, punishable by two to 10 years imprisonment, according to the Associated Press.
Perry’s atttorneys were quick to issue a statement saying the governor used his veto power in accordance with the Texas Constitution.
“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 Friday evening. “We will continue to aggressively defend the governor’s lawful and constitutional action, and believe we will ultimately prevail.”
Another of Perry’s attorneys, David L. Botsford, labeled the charges an “effort to weaken the constitutional authority granted to the office of Texas governor,” and “political abuse of the court system..”
Botsford’s statement via Business Insider:
“I am outraged and appalled that the Grand Jury has taken this action, given the governor’s constitutional right and duty to veto funding as he deems appropriate. This clearly represents political abuse of the court system and there is no legal basis in this decision. The facts of this case conclude that the governor’s veto was lawful, appropriate and well within the authority of the office of the governor. 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.”
Though the case has yet to play out, several Democrats wasted no time in demonizing Perry, and issued calls demanding his resignation.
Democrat Congressman Joaquin Castro, twin brother of San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro – who was recently tapped by President Obama to head up the Department of Housing and Urban Development – immediately called for Perry’s resignation.
For the sake of Texas, Governor Perry should resign following his indictment on two criminal felony counts involving abuse of office.
— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) August 15, 2014
“There is a pattern of corruption on the Republican side,” the executive director of the Texas Democratic Party, Will Hailer also said. “I think it’s really important for voters across the state and for Texans to know what’s going on around in their government.”
Texas Democratic Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa also asked Perry to step down. “Texans deserve to have leaders that stand up for what is right and work to help families across Texas,” Hinojosa said following news of the indictment.
But others on the political left have also expressed concerns that the indictment is an uphill battle and does not bode well for Democrats.
Obama mentor David Axelrod tweeted his apprehension:
Unless he was demonstrably trying to scrap the ethics unit for other than his stated reason, Perry indictment seems pretty sketchy.
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) August 16, 2014
A Politico writer also felt the governor was just doing his job as prescribed by the Texas Constitution.
It seems quite perverse to indict a governor for exercising his clearly delineated constitutional authority.
— Ben White (@morningmoneyben) August 16, 2014
Even the White House mouthpiece Think Progress had to admit Perry’s lawyers have solid standing.
The timing of the indictment coincides with Perry’s deployment of the Texas State National Guard to the southern border, a move widely frowned upon by many pro-amnesty democrats.
The indictment is similar to one lodged against former House Rep. Tom Delay, a Texas Republican who faced money laundering charges he was later acquitted of.
“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,” writes Bryan Preston for PJMedia.
“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.”
In essence, Texas Governor Rick Perry is being charged with using his veto power, a power granted him by the Texas Constitution.
Given democrats’ elated, salivating reactions, it’s highly likely a smear campaign is being waged as part of the Obama administration’s broader agenda to cultivate a future Democratic voting base, a shift which requires turning traditional Republican states such as Texas blue.
Hear Alex Jones’ take on Perry’s indictment below: