(Updates) Another ‘Oops’ for Perry

Ric kPerry mug shot 2

Gov. Rick Perry’s booking photo, Aug. 19, 2014. Courtesy Travis County Sheriff’s Office


Update II:

Under a celebratory, almost victorious atmosphere, a defiant Texas governor Rick Perry arrived at the Travis County justice complex in Austin, Texas, this afternoon and spoke to a cheering crowd before entering the courthouse to be booked, fingerprinted and having his mug shot taken.

Perry exited the booking room about 20 minutes later, spoke again to a cheering crowd, and left.

CBS News reports that shortly thereafter Perry posted a photo of himself at an ice cream store on Twitter.

Update:

The Austin American-Statesman reports:

A state district judge has set an arraignment date for Governor Rick Perry for August 29, officials said today. Under state law, Perry does not have to be present, but may still attend. Meanwhile, a judge has granted a personal bond to Perry, which means he will have to pay only a $20 fee for his release once he surrenders to the Travis County Jail. The judge granted the bond after the prosecutor and Perry’s attorney agreed a personal bond was appropriate, officials said.

Read more here.

Original Post:

The all hat and no cattle governor of Texas has been indicted by a Travis County grand jury on two felony counts stemming from his alleged attempt to use his veto powers to pressure an elected official — Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg — to step down by threatening to cut off $7.5 million in state funding for a public corruption unit in her office.

According to the New York Times, “Ms. Lehmberg is Austin’s top prosecutor and oversees a powerful public corruption unit that investigates state, local and federal officials; its work led to the 2005 indictment of a former Republican congressman, Tom DeLay, on charges of violating campaign finance laws.”

The governor’s hometown newspaper, the Austin American-Statesman, says that some Democrats are calling for Perry to step down:

“For the sake of Texas, Governor Perry should resign following his indictment on two criminal felony counts involving abuse of office,” said U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio.
.
Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said: “Governor Rick Perry has brought dishonor to his office, his family and the state of Texas.”

“The charge of abuse of official capacity carries a prison sentence of five to 99 years, and the charge of coercion of a public servant a two- to 10-year prison sentence, says the Times.

If the governor is treated like any other person charged with a felony, Perry will have to surrender to the Travis County jail where he would be booked, have a mug shot taken and be fingerprinted.

It remains to be seen how this latest — and somewhat more serious “oops” — will affect Perry’s ambitions to run for the U.S. presidency and, more important, his chances to succeed should he decide to run.

Perry is the first Texas governor in nearly a century to face criminal charges.

Read more here

Lead image: Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com

Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

25 Comments

  1. This is an interesting issue. Perry supporters claim this is nothing but a politically motivated attempt to use the law to attack Perry by the dreaded liberals of Travis County (Austin), Texas. They claim that all Perry did was exercise his Constitutional right to line-item veto.

    The other side of this is he made very public statements about using the threat of that veto to force a political enemy to resign after her very public arrest for DWI. It has been suggested that the office of that enemy was investigating the governor’s appointees at the Cancer Prevention Research Institution of Texas and that Perry’s veto might have hobbled that operation.

    Perry clearly has the right to his veto power. However, using it in a very obvious way to coerce a political enemy to resign (even if the case for that resignation is strong) in the way that he did was risky and comes off to me as Perry playing cowboy. Aren’t there other clearly legal means for seeking the removal of a compromised public employee?

  2. Perry’s problem is he just isn’t very bright. If he didn’t like the public corruption unit he could have just vetoed the funding. But no, he had to make it a political circus. Some say this is the end of Perry’s political career – I say he didn’t have one before this. I for one will miss his clown car persona in the primaries.

  3. Exactly, Ron. Perry has taken his laser-sighted pistol and shot himself in the foot.

  4. :)

    With all the dirty deals abuse of power was destined to catch up with Perry….

  5. I will be glad to see this guy out of the national scene.

  6. Hi John “the tribe”… please read the commenters’ rules before you comment again. They are simple rules for civility. There will be no ad hominem attacks here regarding writers, commenters or the site. Such comments will be moderated or removed. This is not the place for snark nor taunting. We keep a civil commenters’ space for thoughtful comments. Our commenters teach, share stories from their own lives, offer civil opinions, add to the post by offering verifiable facts.

    The rule is stick to the topic of the post only. Not what one opines about others especially without knowing them, how other writers or commenters ought view the world according to one’s own view of whatever, who is in one’s estimation beneath one, etc. We dont hold a place here for that.

    There are millions of places online for persons so inclined to attack one another in various ways. And we encourage persons who like that kind of dust up to go to the places where such is played out. Just not here.

    We have many readers who read comments without commenting. They are not interested in uncivil remarks. They read for depth, and for their own interest areas, and to hear other’s first witness experiences and insightful comments.

    Thanks

    “For those who read the post thoroughly, at the beginning, prominently, in the second para, is a bright blue link which leads to the NYT that contains details about the DUI.”

  7. Ah, Dr. E, you got involved just as I was dropping a note about that comment to the editorial staff.

  8. Thanks JS.

  9. Ben “Butler House3″ as above…

    Please read the commenters’ rules before you comment again. They are simple rules for civility. There will be no ad hominem attacks here regarding writers, commenters or the site. Such comments will be moderated or removed. This is not the place for snark nor taunting. We keep a civil commenters’ space for thoughtful comments. Our commenters teach, share stories from their own lives, offer civil opinions, add to the post by offering verifiable facts.

    The rule is stick to the topic of the post only. Not what one opines about others especially without knowing them, how other writers or commenters ought view the world according to one’s own view of whatever, who is in one’s estimation beneath one, etc. We dont hold a place here for that.
    There are millions of places online for persons so inclined to attack one another in various ways. And we encourage persons who like that kind of dust up to go to the places where such is played out. Just not here.
    We have many readers who read comments without commenting. They are not interested in uncivil remarks. They read for depth, and for their own interest areas, and to hear other’s first witness experiences and insightful comments.
    Thanks

    “For those who read the post thoroughly, at the beginning, prominently, in the second para, is a bright blue link which leads to the NYT that contains details about the DUI.”

  10. For those who read the post thoroughly, at the beginning, prominently, in the second para, is a bright blue link which leads to the NYT that contains details about the DUI.

    TMV writers are encouraged to write about whatever aspect of any news story they wish. Giving links is the way we in editorial encourage our journalists to share more details. Giving a link is a usual gold standard practice in journos online. Links provide details. I’m sorry, but we aren’t able to write according to any individual reader’s personal sense of what the reader wants to see here or elsewhere.

    Thanks.

  11. It may be that this may dog the Governor re running for Prez. also. Not sure if public is ready for a death penalty advocate for Prez.

    “With the execution of Kimberly McCarthy slated for June 26, Texas is on the eve of a historic first: The first state to have executed 500 individuals since reinstatement of the death penalty – an event that also extends Gov. Rick Perry’s record as the U.S. governor presiding over the most executions ever carried out. McCarthy is slated not only to be tagged with the infamous fate of 500, but will also become only the fifth woman – and the third black woman – executed in Texas since 1854.” from Forbes online.

  12. As a truly committed moderate I’m trying to approach the issue for clarity and understanding. But, honestly, I’m just not sure what crime has been committed.

    Obviously, the governor of Texas has the right to veto budget items. And I’m not quite sure about this (maybe one of the ultra moderates on this extremely fair and honest site can help me out here) isn’t the governor of Texas entitled to First Amendment guarantees? I remember taking a class in high school civics that mentioned something called a “Bill of Rights”.

    Maybe I’m just missing something. But as an unbiased seeker of truth I would really like to know.

  13. “I’m just not sure what crime has been committed. ”

    Good question. The crimes he allegedly committed are fairly clear, but it is less clear whether Perry is really guilty of a crime. From Think Progress (and don’t discount it because of being a leftist site–the full post is quite fair and does not come to any conclusions that Perry is actually guilty):

    The indictment lists two state laws which Perry allegedly violated. The first is a vague statute prohibiting public servants from “intentionally or knowingly . . . misuse[ing] government property, services, personnel, or any other thing of value belonging to the government that has come into the public servant’s custody or possession by virtue of the public servant’s office or employment.” The second is a somewhat more specific law prohibiting anyone from using coercion to “influence[] or attempt[] to influence a public servant in a specific exercise of his official power or a specific performance of his official duty or influence[] or attempt[] to influence a public servant to violate the public servant’s known legal duty.”

    Even if Perry’s actions fall within these statutes, however, the special prosecutor bringing these charges may need to overcome a significant constitutional obstacle. In a statement released Friday evening, Perry’s attorney claims that “[t]he veto in question was made in accordance with the veto authority afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution.” She may have a point.

    The Texas Constitution gives the governor discretion to decide when to sign and when to veto a bill, as well as discretion to veto individual line-items in an appropriation bill. Though the state legislature probably could limit this veto power in extreme cases — if a state governor literally sold his veto to wealthy interest groups, for example, the legislature could almost certainly make that a crime — a law that cuts too deep into the governor’s veto power raises serious separation of powers concerns. Imagine that the legislature passed a law prohibiting Democratic governors from vetoing restrictions on abortion, or prohibiting Republican governors from vetoing funding for Planned Parenthood. Such laws would rework the balance of power between the executive and the legislature established by the state constitution, and they would almost certainly be unconstitutional.

    So an important question facing whichever court is tasked with trying Perry’s case will be whether a law preventing Perry from using strongarm tactics to push out a genuinely compromised public official is an unconstitutional restriction on his discretion as governor or a valid means of reigning in corruption. This is not likely to be an easy question for the judges, and potentially, justices, who are called upon to resolve it.

    For additional analysis, Jonathan Chait writes that “This Indictment Of Rick Perry Is Unbelievably Ridiculous.” The Texas Tribune looks at the politics of this.

  14. To those who are somewhat excited by the post reporting on Governor Perry’s grand jury indictment, just a couple — three — observations:

    1. Except for the “all hat and no cattle” qualifier, the post factually reports that a Travis County Grand Jury has indicted the governor of Texas “on two felony counts stemming from his alleged attempt to use his veto powers to pressure an elected official — Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg — to step down by threatening to cut off $7.5 million in state funding for a public corruption unit in her office.”

    Please note the word “alleged.”

    2. The grand jury deliberations are secret, so we don’t know how much credible evidence was presented to convince the grand jury to issue such an indictment. The core issue is whether the governor used strong arm tactics to try to push out an elected official whose public conduct he did not approve of and who also happened to be in charge of a public corruption unit that investigates state, local and federal officials — whose budget he vetoed — a unit that just happened to be investigating the governor’s appointees at the Cancer Prevention Research Institution of Texas. In my opinion, these allegations –indictments — are serious and are, again in my opinion, serious issues that future jurors and judges will have to carefully investigate and resolve.

    Finally, as to the hat and cattle comment, that is a personal opinion by which I firmly stand and one for which I, a priori, but respectfully, disagree with those who disagree with me.

    Thanks for all the lively comments.

  15. Perry’s “Oops moments” are as frequent as cops killing unarmed black men. Unfortunately not enough is being done to rectify either situation.

  16. Interesting that when we don’t like someone, it is SO tempting to throw in a negative personalization about them. I wish I could resist that temtation, though I can’t.

  17. I wish I could resist that temtation, though I can’t.

    I have noticed that, dduck. Same here. :)

  18. Under Texas law it is a Class A misdemeanor unless the coercion is a threat to commit a felony, in which event it is a felony of the third degree.

    The Grand Jury must have seen pretty strong evidence to take the charges against Perry all the way to a felony.

    TEXAS PENAL CODE
    .
    TITLE 8. OFFENSES AGAINST PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
    .
    CHAPTER 36. BRIBERY AND CORRUPT INFLUENCE
    .
    Sec. 36.03. COERCION OF PUBLIC SERVANT OR VOTER. (a) A person commits an offense if by means of coercion he:
    .
    (1) influences or attempts to influence a public servant in a specific exercise of his official power or a specific performance of his official duty or influences or attempts to influence a public servant to violate the public servant’s known legal duty; or
    .
    (2) influences or attempts to influence a voter not to vote or to vote in a particular manner.
    .
    (b) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor unless the coercion is a threat to commit a felony, in which event it is a felony of the third degree.
    .
    (c) It is an exception to the application of Subsection (a)(1) of this section that the person who influences or attempts to influence the public servant is a member of the governing body of a governmental entity, and that the action that influences or attempts to influence the public servant is an official action taken by the member of the governing body. For the purposes of this subsection, the term “official action” includes deliberations by the governing body of a governmental entity.

  19. Grand Jury+able prosecutor= indicted ham sandwich.
    I still don’t like him.

  20. peas in a pod…

  21. “Make no mistake: Rick Perry is a dangerous horse’s ass, but I share the view of the NYTimes editorial board in questioning his prosecution.”

    I definitely agree with you Shaun.
    In fact, if he has a decent bevy of lawyers, I am pretty sure he will escape prosecution on this one. The fact that what he did may have been more than sh***y, makes no difference.
    If [people cared about his character, he wouldn’t have a following to begin with.

  22. Simply exercising the right to veto without any comment would have accomplished his goal of killing funding for the unit without a question of impropriety, except for the fact that the unit was investigating his supporters. The DA for Travis County was a duly-elected county official. Travis County voters have the only right to decide who is the DA, not the governor. To withhold approval of a legislative act providing funding of a state integrity unit, soley to obtain the removal of a duly elected county official is where the issue becomes one of possible criminality.

  23. Interesting take on it in the link below. Its not so much the act of the veto as it is the obvious point that tried to coerce her to resign. What other conclusion is there? The main points I picked up on in the article….he had no problem with two previous DA’s arrested for DWI but all of the sudden has a problem with his one, tries to force her out with the threat of the veto, when that doesn’t work he offers her a job in another position though he had deemed unfit for office. So, does he have the power to decide who gets to serve in elected positions?

    http://www.politico.com/magazi.....ml?ml=lb_6

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