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 wasrecently tapped by President Obama to head up the Department of Housing and Urban Development – immediately called for Perry’s resignation.
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