Texas Gov. Perry Indicted Because He Vetoed Money for Convicted Drunk Driving District Attorney

Texas Gov. Perry Indicted Because He Vetoed Money for Convicted Drunk Driving District Attorney

You have to watch the videos below of the District Attorney’s arrest to believe it.  Her blood alcohol was 3 times more than the legal limit, enough for many people to pass out, but she was caught driving in that condition.

She was sentenced to prison for this, but refused to resign as the District Attorney.  Governor Perry tried to defund her, and now he has been felony indicted for doing so, by the notoriously political Austin Grand Jury system.

 

First the facts, in an article by Jonathan Turley, a Georgetown law professor:

Late yesterday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry was indicted by a grand jury in Austin on charges of abuse of power. The charges stem from Perry carrying out a threat to veto funding the budget for the Travis County Public Integrity Unit, which handles political corruption investigations.

District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg had been arrested for drunk driving and was widely criticized for her conduct while in custody. She refused to resign even after been sentenced to jail and Perry carried out his threat. I have been critical of Perry in the past and I believe that his veto was wrongheaded. However, I view the indictment as very troubling on a separation of powers basis and the result of the extension of criminal provisions with tangential applicability to this type of dispute.

 

This controversy began with the arrest of Lehmberg. Here are the videos from the arrest to booking to holding. Police say that she had to be restrained (the mask was put on her allegedly to protect her identity):

She eventually pleaded guilty and received a 45-day jail sentence under the plea agreement. She served half of that time before being released and then she resumed her work in office.

Perry (and, in fairness, various state groups) called for her to resign. Lehmberg refused. The conflict had, at the outset, obvious political dimensions. Lehmberg is located in the very liberal and very Democratic city of Austin. The governor hails from an extremely conservative part of the state and Lehmberg is one of the few Democratic officials with a statewide position.

Perry ratcheted up the conflict by giving Lehmberg an ultimatum to resign or he would veto the budget for the office. When the budget came through, he made good on the threat and cut $7.5 million in funding for the Travis County Public Integrity Unit.

Perry was then made the subject of a complaint filed by Texans for Public Justice, a liberal watchdog group. That led to San Antonio lawyer Michael McCrum being appointed the special prosecutor and investigating the matter for months with numerous witnesses called before a grand jury.

 

Those are the facts.   A Texas newspaper linked to by Drudge has a lengthy article about this, in which only two sentences covered Lehnberg’s crimes and Perry’s reason to try and force her to resign.  The rest of the article was mostly about the politics of it.  How it would hurt Perry and Republicans:.  Mostly ignoring the merits of the indictment, they concluded with :

Democrats pounce

But Texas Democrats pounced on the accusations and vowed to use the charges against Perry in the Texas governor’s race to bolster their political attack on the Republican leadership that has dominated Texas politics for more than two decades.

“We think it has an absolute impact because Texans are waking up today with a Republican in office that has created this culture of corruption in Austin,” said Texas Democratic Executive Director Will Hailer, speaking to reporters in the Capitol minutes after Perry’s news conference. “People want to see a change of leadership in Austin.”

State Sen. Wendy Davis, the Fort Worth Democrat who is running against Republican Greg Abbott for governor, described the indictments as “very, very serious charges” but stopped short of joining Hailer and other Democrats in demanding Perry’s resignation.

In a brief session with reporters after a campaign appearance in suburban Austin, she also declined to assess the potential impact on the governor’s race, saying, “I’ll leave it to the pundits to determine that.”

The indictments cast new doubts on Perry’s presidential aspirations and came at a time when he seemed to be rebounding from a disastrous first bid for the White House in 2012. But several analysts said the impact on his presidential hopes depend on the length of the legal case and what evidence surfaces in a trial. Nearly all agreed that Perry is done for politically if convicted.

Damaged goods?

“He could proceed without a lot of damage. But if goes on for a long time and certainty if he were convicted, that would destroy any chance of running for president in 2016,” said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University. I … certainly don’t expect him to be convicted, let alone jailed. I can’t imagine seeing those designer spectacles staring at me from behind a jail cell.”

Jim Riddlesperger, a political science professor at TCU, said that even before the indictments Perry faced a difficult challenge to repair his image from the last presidential bid. “I think Perry has a big uphill battle anyway because after the 2012 election he was seen as not ready for prime time,” Riddlesperger said. “Overcoming those first impressions is going to be a very, very difficult thing for him to do. I think that’s the issue for him, much more so than this indictment.”

Allan Saxe, an associate political science professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, said that regardless of the outcome, there’s no question that the indictment is “going to impact his chances of running for president. He may be completely innocent. He may be acquitted. In fact, he probably will be.

“But it won’t make a difference,” Saxe said. “The word indictment has a very chilling effect. It’s really not good politically for Gov. Perry.”

Staff writer Anna M. Tinsley contributed to this report.  http://www.star-telegram.com/2014/08/16/6047440/perry-felony-indictment-is-a-farce.html?rh=1

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2014/08/16/6047440/perry-felony-indictment-is-a-farce.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

 

 

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