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No arrest for Gov. Perry, but mug shot to be taken

By
August 20, 2014 |

AUSTIN, Texas — A Texas judge opted Monday not to issue an arrest warrant against Gov. Rick Perry, but the Republican still faces the unflattering prospect of being booked, fingerprinted and having his mug shot taken — and has assembled a team of high-powered attorneys to fight the two felony counts of abuse of power against him.

Leading conservatives around the country have mostly lined up to support the longest-serving governor in Texas history, and Perry’s aides said the case won’t derail his busy travel schedule, which includes visits to several key presidential battleground states as he continues to eye a second run for the White House in 2016.

“This is nothing more than banana republic politics,” Tony Buzbee a Houston-based defense attorney who will head a cadre of four lawyers from Texas and Washington defending Perry, said at a news conference. “The charges lobbed against the governor are a really nasty attack not only on the rule of law but on the Constitution of the United States, the state of Texas and also the fundamental constitutional protections that we all enjoy.”

Perry on Friday became the first Texas governor since 1917 to be indicted, and is facing charges of coercion and official oppression that carry a maximum sentence of 109 years in prison for carrying out a threat to veto funding for the state’s public integrity unit last summer.

The governor has emphatically stood by his veto and denied all wrongdoing. The judge overseeing the case, Republican Bert Richardson, decided against issuing an arrest warrant and instead the special prosecutor appointed to the matter, Michael McCrum, was planning a simple legal summons. That still means a booking is in Perry’s future.

Buzbee said he didn’t know exactly when that would occur but that the governor has no intention of hiding: “That’s going to be something, that when he goes in to be booked and take his picture that we’re going to let you know about.”

In an email Monday night, McCrum said that Friday, as well as Aug. 29, had been discussed as possible dates for an arraignment. But he also said that Perry may waive his arraignment altogether.

Felix Browne, a spokesman for the governor, said no arraignment date had been confirmed — and that Perry wouldn’t need to appear personally.

A grand jury in Austin, a liberal bastion in otherwise largely conservative Texas, indicted Perry for carrying out a threat to veto $7.5 million in funding for the state’s public integrity unit after Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat, refused to resign following a drunken driving arrest. The ethics unit is housed under Lehmberg’s office.

No one disputes that Perry has the power to veto measures approved by the Legislature, but his threat to do so before actually carrying it out prompted a complaint from a left-leaning watchdog group.

The grand jury met for months before handing down its indictment, and Perry’s $450 per-hour defense attorney was paid using state funds. Buzbee said the public will continue footing the bill for the governor’s now-pricier legal team, though he said a private foundation could eventually be established to handle some of the costs.

Word that Perry avoided an arrest warrant raised questions of favoritism, but legal observers said forgoing an arrest warrant is common in white-collar cases. Former U.S. Attorney Matt Orwig said that insisting on an arrest warrant for Perry would have been “grandstanding.”

“He’s obviously not a flight risk or danger to the community,” Orwig said.

The public integrity unit also led the case against former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a fellow Texas Republican who was convicted in 2010 on campaign finance charges, but eventually had them overturned on appeal.

Dick DeGuerin, a Houston attorney who defended DeLay, said the congressman was originally issued a summons — and it wasn’t until DeLay’s legal team had some of the indictments against him thrown out that prosecutors sought an arrest warrant. DeLay eventually turned himself in and, wearing a suit and American flag lapel pin, smiled wide for his mug shot.

“It turned out to be kind of a glamour shot,” DeGuerin said.

Aides said the case wouldn’t prevent Perry from maintaining his packed upcoming schedule, which includes visits to the key presidential battleground states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina in the next two weeks. Perry also has a Thursday speech on immigration at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.

The governor is attempting to rebrand himself to a national audience after stumbling badly during his short-lived 2012 presidential campaign.

Potential 2016 presidential rival and Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie released a statement Monday saying he has “complete faith and confidence in Governor Perry’s honesty and integrity,” echoing similar sentiments from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, all of whom may eventually seek the GOP White House nomination. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said the charges “could well help” Perry.

“It is an attack. It also is coming out of a county where you wouldn’t expect even-handedness,” said Branstad, a Republican.

Conservatives also have been quick to note that a video recording made at the jail showed Lehmberg shouting at staffers, kicking the door of her cell and sticking her tongue out at deputies. Perry’s attorneys showed the “outrageous” video again while addressing reporters Monday.

Not everyone was backing Perry, though. In Pennsylvania, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s re-election campaign removed a video endorsement by the Texas governor from its website following Perry’s indictment.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 12 comments

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  • PornacAugust 19, 2014 - 7:04 am

    The question, will he wear his new nerd glasses.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JimboAugust 19, 2014 - 11:23 am

    Oh the fickleness of Republicans attempting to defend Rick Perry by explaining how frivolous an 'abuse of power' lawsuit is.....while supporting one against Obama.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • PornacAugust 19, 2014 - 12:58 pm

    Ahh, Oops.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Larry WAugust 19, 2014 - 2:51 pm

    The drunk was unfit for office so I am glad that Perry attempted to clean up government a little bit. I just don't understand where some of you guys are coming from.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksAugust 19, 2014 - 3:35 pm

    Larry W, if you haven't been here long you may not know my deep disdain for the GOP and especially those like Perry that have no regard for civil, human or women's rights. In fact most members of the GOP will challenge those rights and attempt (as they have all ready) to take them away if elected. The evidence has been presented ad nauseam. Please do the research.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Larry WAugust 19, 2014 - 4:54 pm

    CD. We can certainly debate the civil right voting record of republicans. I think of proud civil rights leaders like Robert Byrd. Oh yeah, he wasn't so good. And now the person who is representing your view point was willing to take out a family because of her behavior. I just couldn't go there if I was a liberal.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksAugust 19, 2014 - 6:48 pm

    Larry W, to each his own. The Republican Conservatives will terrorize this country. Best they're dealt away with by whatever means necessary.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Larry WAugust 19, 2014 - 7:04 pm

    CD. I am a conservative and I wish for ALL to live and thrive in our country. I couldn't give a flying fig what color a person is but I care about what people do. I am opposed to affirmative action because that is racist. I also would not vote for a racist. What upsets me is when people make stereotypes when they don't really know what the other person is thinking. I also have an issue with people who call African Americans uncle toms and other names because they are conservative.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Larry WAugust 19, 2014 - 8:02 pm

    CD. I just looked at your last statement. "Best that they are dealt away with by whatever means necessary." What do you specifically mean by that statement? So correct me if I am incorrect but is it ok to lie, cheat, threaten, vandalize, abuse the legal system because you or someone like you disagrees with what another person? How far do you think would be appropriate? Do you think that Bill Ayers is ok?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksAugust 20, 2014 - 6:59 am

    Larry W, okay I can see we're going to play the semantics game. Not going there Sir. No I do not condone violence and I have made my case clear here for years so you'll have to play catch-up on your own.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CaelumOrionAugust 19, 2014 - 4:12 pm

    Yea Larry please do the research for the commie dupe. Then fill him in on your results.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksAugust 19, 2014 - 6:44 pm

    CaelumOrion, "commie dupe?" Too many Oxy's?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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