Texas Gov. Rick Perry Indicted on Coercion, Bribery Charges (Updated)

UPDATE, August 18, 11:37 a.m.: In an official statement released Saturday, Gov. Perry described his indictment on coercion and abuse of power charges as “partisan theatrics.” In fact, Perry called the indictment itself an “abuse of power,” and that he will “fight against those who would erode our state’s constitution and laws purely for political purposes.” A number of prominent Republicans have announced their public support for Perry, including Sen. Ted Cruz (TX), Gov. Bobby Jindal (LA), and former governor of Alaska Sarah Palin. According to the San Antonio Express-News, the special prosecutor who investigated the Perry allegations has a reputation as “not the type to use a case to play politics.”

An Austin grand jury indicted Texas Gov. Rick Perry on felony corruption charges on Friday after the Republican withheld $7.5 million in two years of funding for a county integrity unit that investigates government misdeeds and fraud.

The state’s public integrity unit is housed within the Travis County District Attorney’s office. After Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg was arrested for drunk driving in 2013, Perry called for her resignation. Lehmberg refused to resign, and Perry vetoed the unit’s funding.

That veto triggered a complaint from Texans for Public Justice, a left-leaning watchdog group that alleged, in part, that Perry:

threatened to use the official power of his elected office to veto the legislative budget appropriation for the Travis County District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit unless Rosemary Lehmberg, the elected Travis County District Attorney resigned her office. Further, the aforesaid James Richard “Rick” Perry subsequently did use the power of his office on the fifteenth of June, A.D. 2013, to veto the legislative appropriation to fund the Travis County District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit.

An investigation into the allegations began more than a year ago in Austin, and on Friday resulted in indictments for abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant. If convicted, Perry could face prison sentences from five to 99 years, and two to ten years, on the charges, respectively.

Perry, the state’s longest-serving governor at four terms and a staunch anti-choice politician who has said he endorses the repeal of Roe v. Wade, is not seeking re-election. He is reported to be considering a 2016 presidential bid.

Public corruption has become a contentious issue in the race to replace Perry, with Democratic nominee state Sen. Wendy Davis accusing Republican nominee and current Texas attorney general, Greg Abbott, of granting favorable rulings to Koch Industries donors.

Left-wing groups were quick to tie Perry’s indictment charges to alleged corruption in the state GOP writ large.

“Today’s indictment of Rick Perry confirms the corrupt culture of GOP leadership in Texas,” said Matt Angle, a former Davis advisor and director of the liberal Lone Star Project PAC. He characterized Perry’s “abuse of power” as “business as usual.”

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  • Sammysue

    This indictment couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy–other, perhaps, than Greg Abbott. The slime runs deep in the Republican Party in Texas.
    I wish Molly Ivins was still with us to see the indictment of “Governor Goodhair!”

    • Ella Warnock

      I miss Molly.

    • catseye

      Wendy Davis carries the flame. Bless her!

  • Ella Warnock

    Couldn’t have happened to nicer neocon piece of shit.

  • Arekushieru

    I am SO glad RH was reporting on this! I heard about this elsewhere, already, too. And my first thought upon reading it was, “Aha, gotcha!”.

  • dudebro

    Republicans love their own, even when they cheat lie and “murder babies”.

    Identity politics is at the heart of it. “It is OK when we do it”

    • cjvg

      Right back to their ever present argument that their situation is different. and morally and ethically seen justifiable and absolutely acceptable (they just don’t want to talk about it because that is private, you know) .

      THEIR abortion was a moral one, their DUI was understandable and must be forgiven, their rape was a REAL rape, their son’s husbands etc. were tricked by those filthy sluts and did NOT really commit rape, Their suffering is REAL, Their pain means something etc etc. For the rest of us, not so much

  • StudentHealer

    When one of the local news affiliates here (I’m in a major city in Texas) picked this story up, y’all should have seen the comments. Then again, maybe y’all shouldn’t have… it was pretty terrible. Dozens of conservatives came outta the woodwork, mainly to say some variation on “Of course he threatened to use his veto power to get her out of office! Did you see the video of her in the jail?”

    None of them, not a single one, seems to understand that what Perry did was pretty much the exact definition of “abuse of power”. Yes, Lehmberg drove drunk (which is all kinds of bad) and yes, she went off the rails a bit in the jail. But there is nothing in the world that she could have done that would have made it magically alright for the Governor to break the law.

    And now, Perry is out in the media saying bulls**t like, “We don’t use indictments to settle political differences.” Someone should remind him that he was indicted because he abused the power of the office he holds… and that it’s wrong to use the power of that office to settle personal differences.

    Ugh, he’s such a tool.

    • Arekushieru

      I do so love reading your comments, SH. Also, am in total agreement, here. If something is against the law, full stop, it is against the law. Full stop. There are no loopholes, exceptions, provisions by law, what have you, whatsoever. Much like there are no loopholes, exceptions, provisions by God’s law to steal private information and make it public.

      • StudentHealer

        Thanks, Arekushieru. :) The feeling is entirely mutual.

        I get the impression that Perry would admit to no less than papal infallibility. What sucks is that I know a bunch of super-conservative Christians who think Perry is the best thing to happen to Texas… as he breaks every rule that Jesus laid out for Christians to follow (for the record, I am a Christian, but I’m incredibly liberal and loving about it. The fundamentalists are bad for my blood pressure). I just cannot stand the hypocrisy that drips from people like that.

        I think it’ll be worse here, though, if Abbott makes it into office in the next election. As Attorney General and the GOP candidate for governor, he’s done a *lot* of questionable crap… his smear campaign against Senator Davis has been known to make me snarl. I should probably go brew some chamomile before my heart rate gets all out of hand.

        • Arekushieru

          Aw, it’s nice to hear that once in awhile, so, THANKS. SH!

          You may not know this, but I, too, am Christian. Of the Unitarian Universalist variety. :) So, yes, VERY liberal.

          • StudentHealer

            Awesome. :) One of these days, I’m gonna visit the local UU church. I just really enjoy the ‘Reconciling in Christ’ Lutheran church we’ve been attending. Every person I’ve met who identifies as UU has been similar to me in terms of spirituality – they’re incredibly relaxed and groovy. I mean, social justice issues can get ’em wound up, but they’d never dream of cramming their faith down someone else’s throat, y’know?

          • conversate

            I am an atheist, but I will take a good christian over a hateful bigoted atheist any day.

            Religion is only bad when evil people use it to manipulate.

          • StudentHealer

            I have a similar view – I’d rather speak with a relaxed and groovy atheist than a bigoted, blind-to-the-hate-they-carry conservative Christian.

            And I agree – Christianity, as a basic doctrine, is not the bad thing. It’s the way evil people use it to oppress others.

          • Arekushieru

            And the only type of stuff they MIGHT try to cram down someone’s throat is acceptance, tolerance AND equality. LOL.

    • JamieHaman

      Sane people agree. Rick Perry has been the Governor so long he’s forgotten he isn’t the exception to the rule.

    • fiona64

      Perry appears to believe that he is subject to some variation on Richard Nixon’s infamous “if the President does it, it’s not illegal” remark and thus above the law.

      Perry, like most of his TeaBircher worshippers, is delusional.

      • Arekushieru

        Hmm, would he have been one to likely be involved in Bill Clinton’s impeachment process, though?

        • fiona64

          Of course he would. Because it’s different when it’s your own. ;-)

  • fiona64

    Sen. Ted Cruz (TX), Gov. Bobby Jindal (LA), and former governor of Alaska Sarah Palin.

    These idiots are not the folks I would want on *my* side. I’m just sayin’ …

  • P. McCoy

    Let’s hope for increased voter turn out in November so that anti abortion laws in Texas can be overturned so that clinics can be opened again. All Texan females, not just the rich, have a right to a safe, legal abortion or to contraception as they see fit and LGBT people have a right to freely access all the businesses that they choose.