Texas Governor Perry calls indictment politically motivated

AUSTIN Texas Sat Aug 16, 2014 3:51pm 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, a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2016, said on Saturday an indictment against him for abuse of power was a political move that he intends to fight.

Perry was indicted on Friday by a grand jury in Travis County, a Democratic stronghold in the heavily Republican state, 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.

"This indictment amounts to nothing more than an abuse of power and I cannot and I will not allow that to happen," Perry told reporters in Austin, Texas. He added he stood by the veto that led to charges being laid against him.

A probe was launched last year after Perry vetoed $7.5 million in funding for an integrity unit that is part of the Travis County district attorney's office.

The veto was seen as hardball politics to force out county District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat, after she pleaded guilty to drunken driving and remained in office.

If convicted of the first-degree felony, Perry could be sentenced to between five and 99 years in jail while a conviction on the other charge can bring between two and 10 years in jail, a prosecutor said.

Perry is expected to survive the court battle but the trial could drag on for months, casting a shadow over his campaign and scaring away major donations, said Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston.

In the short run, Perry could use the legal battle to win support during Republican primaries by portraying himself as a staunch conservative being targeted in a politically motivated prosecution launched by Democrats, Jones said.

"This comes as Perry was gaining traction due to the immigration issue that saw him rise from an also-ran to a third-tier candidate in the Republican presidential race," Jones said.

Republicans have long charged that they have been targeted by the Public Integrity Unit, run out of the Travis County prosecutor's office. The unit has investigated prominent Republicans including former U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

After flaming out in the 2012 presidential race, Perry had been mounting a political comeback that gained him national attention for attacking President Barack Obama by saying he had not done enough to secure the border with Mexico.

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

He is not seeking re-election as governor and will step down next year.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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Comments (55)
4825 wrote:
Michael McCrum is a Democrat. That says it all.

Aug 15, 2014 8:49pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
carnivalchaos wrote:
I suppose if I post something positive about Rick Perry, or just innocuous, Reuters might show my post. But when I state what needs to be stated, that Republicans have a my-way-or-the-highway attitude and depend on corruption rather than ideas and leadership to stay in power, Reuters blocks the post. Hope Perry runs for President again. There, that was positive.

Aug 15, 2014 9:30pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
AlexZ83 wrote:
“A probe was launched last year after 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 hardball politics to force out county District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat, after she pleaded guilty to drunken driving.”

What Reuters failed to report is that Rosemary Lehmberg served 45 days in prison for the drunken driving conviction and refused to resign her post at the “integrity office” in the aftermath.

Good for you governor Perry! At least someone in this country is trying to put a stop to the lawlessness and freewill-rule that the Bolshevik Democratic party has conducted for the past 6 years.

Aug 15, 2014 10:50pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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