Editor’s Note: Texas Governor Rick Perry is under fire in a Democratic county. There may be some sleazy politics afoot.
A Travis County grand jury Friday indicted Gov. Rick Perry on two charges related to his effort last year to force District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg to resign after her drunken driving arrest.
Grand jurors charged Perry, 64, with abuse of official capacity, a first-degree felony, and coercion of a public servant, a third-degree felony. The first charge carries a punishment of 5-99 years and a fine of up to $10,000. The second charge is punishable by 2-10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
The indictment stems from Perry’s threat last summer to withhold $7.5 million in state money from Lehmberg’s office unless she step down – a threat he later carried out by vetoing an appropriation in the state budget.
Mary Anne Wiley, General Counsel for Perry, said in a statement following the indictment: “The veto in question was made in accordance with the veto authority afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution. We will continue to aggressively defend the governor’s lawful and constitutional action, and believe we will ultimately prevail.”
Immediately, after the indictment was announced, Perry, who is poised to make a second run for president, tweeted: “Help RickPAC elect candidates who support a strong border, new jobs, smaller gov’t, and fiscal responsibility.”
The special prosecutor in the case, San Antonio attorney Michael McCrum, said he was confident with the strength of the charges filed against Perry.
“There has been an immense amount of work that has gone into my investigation up until this point,” he told reporters after announcing the indictment. “I have interviewed over 40 people who were related in some way to the events that happened.”
He later added: “I looked at the law. I looked at the facts. and I presented everything possible to the grand jury.”
Asked about his thoughts of Perry’s ability to do his job as governor, McCrum said: “I took into account the fact that we’re talking about the governor of a state and a governor of the state of Texas, which we all love. Obviously that carries a level of importance, but when it gets down to it, the law is the law, and the elements are the elements.”
McCrum said he will speak with Perry’s lawyers Monday to arrange for the governor to be booked and formally notified in court of the charges against him.