SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - Lawyers for Rick Perry invoked a former Roman emperor and 17th-century French King Louis XIV in a motion filed on Monday seeking to dismiss abuse-of-power felony charges leveled against the Texas governor.
It was the second motion seeking to dismiss the charges against Perry, a potential candidate in the 2016 Republican presidential race, who has tried to rally support by saying he is the victim of a partisan, politicized prosecution.
The new motion argues that Perry was operating within his rights in vetoing money for a public integrity unit in the prosecutor’s office in Travis County, a Democratic stronghold in the heavily Republican state.
Rebutting the lawsuit’s contention that Perry had overstepped his authority by vetoing the funds, his lawyers argued that he was operating within the constraints on his office imposed by the state constitution.
“A Texas Governor is not Augustus traversing his realm with a portable mint and an imperial treasure in tow; he no more has custody or possession of the State’s general revenue funds than does any Texan. No governor can say of his or her state what the Sun King said of France: “L’etat c’est moi,” it said.
Perry, 64, the longest-serving governor in Texas history, became the target of an ethics investigation last year after he vetoed $7.5 million in funding for the state public integrity unit run from the Travis County district attorney’s office.
His veto was widely viewed as intended to force the ouster of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat, after she had pleaded guilty to drunken driving and remained in office.
Since being indicted last month, Perry has traveled to crucial presidential primary states to rally support for a possible campaign. After flaming out in a gaffe-prone 2012 presidential bid, Perry has ranked near the bottom in surveys of Republican voters among possible candidates in 2016.
Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Peter Cooney