Texas Governor Perry indicted for abuse of power

AUSTIN Texas Fri Aug 15, 2014 7:45pm EDT

Texas Governor Rick Perry gestures as he speaks at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa August 9, 2014. REUTERS/Brian Frank

Texas Governor Rick Perry gestures as he speaks at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa August 9, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Brian Frank

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AUSTIN Texas (Reuters) - Texas Governor Rick Perry was indicted on Friday by a grand jury in Texas on two counts of abuse of power and coercion over a funding veto he made last year that was seen as being intended to force a local prosecutor to resign.

Perry, seen as a possible Republican candidate in the 2016 presidential race, was indicted by a grand jury in Travis County with abuse of official capacity, a felony, and coercion of a public official, a misdemeanor.

A probe was launched last year when Perry vetoed $7.5 million in funding for an integrity unit that is part of the Travis County District Attorney's office. The move was seen as trying to force out county District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat, after she pleaded guilty to drunken driving.

The indictment said Perry, "with intent to harm another, to-wit, Rosemary Lehmberg and the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney's Office, intentionally or knowingly misused government property."

Perry's General Counsel, Mary Anne Wiley, said the veto 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," she said in a statement

Perry, 64, in recent months has been traveling to Republican battleground states and major party gatherings in what analysts said were visits that have helped him scout the political landscape for a possible presidential run.

Perry, the longest-serving governor in the state's history, was forced to exit the 2012 Republican presidential race after several gaffes including when he lost his train of thought during a debate and could not recall which government departments he wanted to abolish.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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