Yesterday, a grand jury in Travis County, Texas, indicted animatronic grizzly bear/"abortion-mill" truther Governor Rick Perry on two felony counts of "Abuse of Official Capacity" and "Coercion of Public Servant." I guess that's what happens when you cut off funding from a state corruption investigation team, demanding that its head, the district attorney, step down. Oops.
The indictment stems from an incident surrounding the position of Travis County district attorney Rosemary Lehmberg. Lehmberg is a powerful prosecutor, a prominent Democratic voice, and head of the Public Integrity Unit, which investigates corruption perpetrated by state-level officials.
Last year, Lehmberg was arrested for driving while intoxicated and accepted a 45-day jail sentence though she only served 20 days. Her drunken belligerence towards the police that arrested her was caught on tape and widely disseminated—multiple suits were filed against her, calling for her removal (something she pointed out was never demanded of any other male state or county officials who committed a DWI).
Perry himself threatened to veto $7.5 million in state funding to the PIU unless Lehmberg stepped down (which would have allowed him to replace a key Democrat in a powerful position with someone a bit more compatible with his political leanings). When she refused to step down, he went ahead and cut off the funding. At the time, the PIU was looking into alleged ethical breaches and mismanagement of grants at the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas—a state government agency and one of Perry's projects.
It was this veto that compelled non-profit watchdog group Texans for Public Justice to file a complaint, for which a judge appointed a special prosecutor.
Of course his supporters have disparaged the indictment as a witch-hunt and Mary Anne Wiley, general counsel for Perry stated:
"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."
Perry faces a maximum 109-year sentence if found guilty. I guess we will have to simply wait and see just how long this case will drag out and exactly how this whole thing will affect Perry's presidential ambitions.
Image via AP.