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Rick Perry Indicted on Two Counts

by Published on
Rick Perry at The Response prayer rally, August 2011

Things had been going so well for James Richard “Rick” Perry, of late the governor of the great state of Texas. Over the course of the border crisis, he’s striven—with some success—to remake himself as a serious, thoughtful presidential contender. But all good things must come to an end. Today, Perry found himself indicted by an Austin grand jury for two felonies: abuse of official capacity, and coercion of a public official.

The charges come as a result of a long-running power struggle involving Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg. A Democrat, Lehmberg runs the Public Integrity Unit, which investigates public corruption and is a thorn in the side of some state elected officials. In April 2013, Lehmberg caught a DWI, and Perry’s office tried to muscle her out. It looked improper, especially because Lehmberg was in the middle of an investigation into the state’s crooked cancer research institute. (A much more in-depth explanation of the episode can be found here.)

Special Prosecutor Michael McCrum kept mostly mum after announcing the charges; he’ll be meeting with Perry’s legal team on Monday to work out how the case will be handled. Perry hadn’t been subpoenaed, and McCrum wouldn’t say if he had refused to testify voluntarily. He wouldn’t comment on a possible venue change. (It’s thought that Perry’s team might want to try the case outside of Austin.)

Shortly after McCrum announced the indictments, Perry’s General Counsel Mary Anne Wiley released a statement calling Perry’s actions legal: “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.”

There will be political as well as legal consequences. The latter may weigh on Perry’s mind more heavily now. Abuse of official capacity carries a possible prison term of 5 to 99 years, while coercion of a public official carries a possible term of 2 to 10.

But the political fallout is serious, too, especially given the timing. Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) quickly called for Perry to step down. The Texas Democratic Party did the same. Others will follow. This could spell the end of Perry’s presidential ambitions, though some of his fellow contenders for the GOP nomination are also damaged—Scott Walker and Chris Christie have their own ethics problems. Perry’s the longest-serving governor in Texas history, and he’s had free rein to control the state for a long, long time. It’s wholly remarkable to think that his tenure as governor could be consumed by this cloud.

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Christopher Hooks joined the Observer in 2014. Previously, he was a freelance journalist in Austin, where he grew up. His work has appeared in Politico Magazine, Slate, and Texas Monthly, among others. He graduated from The New School in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in history.

  • don76550

    I have already corresponded to my legislators and demanded this corrupt public integrity unit be removed from liberal extremist Travis county and moved to the state attorney general’s office where it belongs. This will be a voting issue for me. For far too long the public integrity unit has been used by democrat liberal extremists to go on partisan witchhunts against republicans. This must stop. Actions like this is why I will never ever vote for any candidate running for statewide office who comes from Austin. Anybody coming from the communist sewer called Austin is unfit for any statewide office in my book.

    • Janmar

      Hurry up, the John Birch Society meets in an hour.

      • NepotismIsDomesticTerrorism

        This is a Koch Brothers-sponsored John Birch Society hit on Governor Oops!
        Out with the Pray for Rain! Born Agins (sic) at Reliant and in with the Better Dead Than Teds.
        Liburty (sic)! Freedum (sic)! Benghazi!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • 1bimbo

          you’re trying too hard

          • NepotismIsDomesticTerrorism

            One can never try too hard for Governor Oops!

    • Harry Jismsm

      Right on, don. I have been running experiments, although unsuccessful at this point, to find out if it is the air or the water that has contributed to the liberal mind rot in the area of Austin. Something has to be affecting their thought patterns.

      • SageFeldemeyer

        Tex-ass Dreck!

      • michael arazan

        The mind rot in Texas is all the loose oil and chemicals seeping in the drinking water. Texas is always on the top 5 worst States for living and corruption. Just like the forfeiture of property where police in Texas can take your money, jewelry, personal property when they pull you over and it’s all legal there, true fact.

        • Just call me Joe

          You have never been to California, Illinois, or New York, have you?

          Just take education. The number one public high school in the US is in Dallas. The state of Texas even ranks at #12 in public education quality, even with the drag by the border counties. (for reference, California ranks 46th).

          In California, SWAT will bust into your house if someone says you have an unregistered gun (I personally know someone this happened to, even though the accusation was false). They don’t do that in Texas.

      • runswithbeer

        Yep…. it’s all in the water…. Maybe I’ll move back to Houston…. No wait…. Liberals took over there as well. Must be all the Chemicals in the Air….. And all those folks drinking Dallas sewer water. ROTFLMAO

    • SageFeldemeyer

      What a MoRon!

    • Just call me Joe

      That is actually a very thoughtful idea. Why is it part of Travis County? That makes no sense. Give it to Collin County!

      • don76550

        Write your legislators and demand it be moved to the attorney generals office. Make it a voting issue for you

    • poobah69

      If that happens, all the corruption in Texas will continue and on a larger scale.

  • 1bimbo

    well, well well, the blueberry in the sea of red is gunning for the governor.. new headline: liberal grand jury indicts conservative governor.. politics is nasty, ain’t it.. let’s look into the crystal ball, abbott and patrick are going to make the lone star state h*ll for democrats after this

    • People4Humanity

      Seen your polls lately?

      • 1bimbo

        did you see the primary results?

    • SageFeldemeyer

      indict CORRUPT governor…..

      • Just call me Joe

        You must be talking about Cuomo and Quinn?

        There is nothing corrupt about Perry. I don’t personally like him very much, but he is not corrupt.

        His best quality is that he leaves the people alone.

  • Gary

    “Perry hasn’t been subpoenaed yet; McCrum wouldn’t say if he would be.”
    How could they subpoena Perry to give evidence against himself? Fifth Amendment and all that.

    • Joe Monk

      A state cant issue a warrant for the arrest of its own sitting governor… so you have to subpoena him.

  • Donna May

    A texas prosecutor is arrested for DUI. He asked for Her resignation and She refused. So, is She going to be biased. Who knows. But, She needs to go, She violated a public trust. How hard is that to understand. really hard. Thus the suit. Do people pay any attention, other than headlines. Not much.

    • Charles Hammond Jr

      Not just arrested mind you.

      Arrested, charged, tried, and convicted.

      You need to have all the details.

      • 1bimbo

        mind you,travis county has low standards for their prosecutors

        • poobah69

          Two other GOP DA’s also received DUI’s and no one in
          Texas made a fuss. Of course they were male. If a woman gets a DUI it’s bad but if a male gets one, no one raises a fuss.

    • Jess

      Why do you capitalize “she” and “her”?

    • runswithbeer

      She was an ELECTED OFFICIAL OF TRAVIS COUNTY and DID NOT REPORT TO Gov. Perry. She REPORTED to the PEOPLE OF TRAVIS COUNTY TEXAS. She offered to resigned at the end of her term or if Perry would let the Travis County Commissioners choose her replacement, PERRY REFUSED. He wanted to kill the Unit Investigating him by putting in a person the VOTERS OF TRAVIS COUNTY WOULD NOT HAVE VOTED FOR… A REPUBLICAN.

    • poobah69

      Two GOP DA’s in Texas also received DUI’s and Perry never asked them to resign. She has a case of sex discrimination against Perry if she chooses to file it.
      A GOP filed the charges against Perry. Get your facts straight. She recused herself from the case against Perry.

  • NepotismIsDomesticTerrorism

    Five bucks says Better Dead Than Ted turned over information to the DA to get Governor Oops! out of the Conservative Primary for President.

    • Just call me Joe

      This was funded by the “Texans for Public Justice”, which surprisingly is mostly funded by people in New York City and DC (only one of their institutional funders is from Texas). And no surprise, they are funded by George Soros.

      • NepotismIsDomesticTerrorism

        Better Dead Than Ted is the real power behind the hit on Governor Oops!

  • Young Hero

    Finally!!!!! This dude is a fuckin serial killer, racist, psycho, REPUBLICAN/NEO-NAZI(same thing)!!!!!!! GIVE HIM THE FUCKIN CHAIR!!!!!!

    • runswithbeer

      Tea Partyer in sheep’s clothing.

  • Bill Smith

    It’s hard to picture Perry’s supporters giving a damn about this. As for his Presidential ambitions, he needs to worry more about his pre-indictment poll numbers than this latest scandal.

  • Harry Jismsm

    Lets take a look at who charged Perry and who indited him. No mind strain there, that it was a Austin democratic prosecutor (same political shade as inditer of Tom Delay) on a political witch hunt and the enablers which happen to be partisan liberal citizens from Austin on a grand jury! Geez, no surprises there. Any trial has to be moved from Austin to a more political neutral area for a more fair trial.
    This is no more than a stunt to try to promote the campaign of their substandard ‘fruitcake’ (or ‘fruitloop’, take your pick) Barbie. And everybody has to admit that if all was non-partisan, she would be laughed out to the state. But being a democrat, they will back ANYBODY, (where is Peter Pan or Tinker Bell when they need them).

    • NepotismIsDomesticTerrorism

      “Lets take a look at who charged Perry and who indited him.”
      Let’s take a took at a possible Discus indictment of you for misspelling two words, “lets” (sic) and indited (sic), in one 12-word sentence.

      • Harry Jismsm

        Kinda prissy, ain’t ya. Must be from Austin!

        • NepotismIsDomesticTerrorism

          Yeah, correct spelling is “kinda prissy”.
          Real God-fearin’, gun-totin’, flag-wavin’ Liburty (sic)-lovin’, Freedum (sic)-followin’, red-blooded Amerikins (sic) don’t (sic) need no (sic) right (sic) spellin’.
          That about your pace, Harold?

    • Just call me Joe

      Is is worse than that. Follow the money. Lehmberg is just a willing pawn. The backers in this was the “Texans for Public Justice”, which receives funding from George Soros. Actually, of all on their funding list, only one is from Texas, most are from NY or DC.

  • william Scanlon

    The point of this story is the Governors abuse of power, it is not about Lehmberg who is head the office of Public Integrity. Through his overt politically motivated actions Perry threw integrity out the window. He may as well plead guilty and show some integrity by saving us tax payers the millions of $$ it will cost for the obvious guilty plea that Perry has already shown through is arrogant actions.

  • Ruben Castilla Herrera

    Wait, I believe we had a President who came into office with a DUI (cocaine possession too). Wait a minute…I think he was from Texas as well. That’s all beside the point, right?

    • michael arazan

      He had several DUI’s. Most jobs don’t fire you for DUI’s, unless it was on the job and it jeopardized lives, you plead guilty get help, and go back to work.

  • R1o2b3

    George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were both arrested for DWI, however, Lehmberg hasn’t run the nation into the ground. She paid the price. Gube Perry is just a flat out idiot. Had he not tied the threat of defunding the PUI to her resignation, he wouldn’t be in this mess. He could have just defunded the PUI without the coercion. Gube Perry really wanted to appoint a Repub to take the focus off of corruption in CPRIT and pay to play. Lehmberg hung in there. I give her credit for that. The Texas Constitution specifically gives PIU the authority to investigate the legislature and public officials, not the Attorney General. Not that Abbott would if he could. Too busy wasting our tax dollars defending unconstitutional laws.

    • runswithbeer

      Not the first investigation Mr. Perry has shut down. HHSC IG was replaced twice once after uncovering 200 million misspent over at Riata, and the other after uncovering Billions spent on the HHSC Website. TIERS. TIERS was outsourced to a Contractor who brought over hundreds of Indian programmers on H1B visas. They’re still in Austin right now. Everyone, MUM’s the word on the Billion dollar data center that no one uses.

  • runswithbeer

    Time to let the Womenfolk run the show.

    • 1bimbo

      katrina pierson, condi rice, joni ernst, sarah palin.. hm.. you might be right

      • Youknowit’strue

        Michelle Bachman.

        • 1bimbo

          luv miss bachmann!! she’s a true patriot.. hate to see her go now that she decided not to run again

  • Just call me Joe

    Rosemary Lehmberg (www.tpnn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/RosemaryLehmberg.jpg) is a disgrace. But she is just a pawn of “Texans for Public Justice” (609 W. 18th St., Austin) that provided the support to make this case. TPJ is a far left hack-job group that is mostly funded by leftists in New York City and Washington DC, including admitted Nazi collaborator, George Soros, through his “Open Society”. When we see this accusation, what we are really seeing is George Soros’ lackeys trying every angle to discredit a successful governor because he is a threat to Soros’ worldview of a elitist progressive masters over a subservient, dependent proletariat.

    According to the Travis Co. Assessor’s office, Lehmberg lives at 2606 Deerfoot Trl, Austin. If I lived closer, I’d get my friends and picket her house.

  • Just call me Joe

    Why does the Texas Observer pay its contributor, Andrew Wheat? Wheat used to work for the very same political activist group, “Texans for Public Justice”, funded in part by George Soros, that is behind all of this.

    I expect more objective reporters.

    • 1bimbo

      texOb isn’t an ‘objective’ news source.. it’s a liberal opinion blog masquerading as a ‘website news magazine’

  • forest bloodgood

    Hamstrung and ham-handed—-now he can “balance” his duties.

  • 1bimbo

    ‘Rho Chalmers, who disclosed to the Houston Chronicle yesterday
    that she was a member of the grand jury that indicted Texas Gov. Rick
    Perry, was an active delegate to the Texas Democratic Party convention
    during grand jury proceedings. Chalmers’ active participation in
    Democratic state politics is important because she claimed yesterday to
    the Houston Chronicle that her decision to indict Perry, a Republican,
    was not based on politics.

    “For me, it’s not a political decision,” Chalmers told the newspaper.
    “That’s what a grand jury is about – take the emotion out of it and
    look at the facts and make your best decision based on your life
    experience.”

    More troubling, however, is the fact that Chalmers
    attended, photographed, and commented on an event with Democratic state
    Sen. Kirk Watson while grand jury proceedings were ongoing…..’

    http://mediatrackers.org/national/2014/08/20/perry-grand-juror-active-democratic-party-delegate-jury-proceedings

    democrats: ‘move on. nothing to see here.’

  • Bandara Carlos

    Perry’s indictments seem to be a bit closer to Bribery and
    Manipulation of a public elected official. With the threat of a veto seems to
    be the part against law, not using the veto. His veto of the funding only
    proves that he carried out his threat. Rule of Law busted Him.