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Texas Gov. Perry says indictment is abuse of power

By From page A6 | August 17, 2014

Perry Indicted

Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks during a news conference on Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014, in Austin, Texas. Perry said Saturday that the indictment against him was an "outrageous" abuse of power and vowed to fight it. (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Rodolfo Gonzalez)

AUSTIN, Texas — Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry vowed Saturday to fight a criminal indictment in a defiant response that showed an old slice of swagger that he’s kept holstered lately while seeking to remake his image for a potential 2016 presidential run.

Perry called two felony counts of abuse of power issued by an Austin grand jury “outrageous” and made no apologies for his 2013 veto that prompted a criminal investigation against the longest-serving governor in Texas history.

Perry made it clear he will finish his term that ends in January and said it was the investigation against him – and not his actions – that amounted to an abuse of power. A Travis County grand jury on Friday indicted Perry for carrying out a threat to veto state funds to the local district attorney, an elected Democrat, who refused to resign following a drunken-driving arrest.

“We don’t settle political differences with indictments in this country,” Perry told reporters outside his office in the Texas Capitol. “It is outrageous that someone would use political theatrics to rip away at the very fabric of our state’s constitution.”

Perry, the first Texas governor since 1917 to be indicted, again dismissed the charges as nakedly political and said he would not hesitate to execute a veto under the same circumstances again.

“The details of my decision-making were very clear. I said early on that I was going to clearly veto those dollars as long as they had someone in that office who I had lost confidence in,” Perry said. “And I had lost confidence.”

Perry’s veto cut $7.5 million in funding to the state’s ethics watchdog housed in the Travis County district attorney’s office. A Texas state judge assigned a special prosecutor to investigate the veto following a formal complaint filed by a left-leaning watchdog group, which accused Perry of trying to leverage his power to force the resignation of District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg.

That unit of public corruption investigators is based in Austin, a liberal haven in mostly conservative Texas and a city that reliably elects Democrats to serve as district attorney.

Perry said he was confident that he would prevail and vowed that those responsible for this “farce of a prosecution” would be held accountable.

Many Democrats criticized Perry’s aggressive reaction to the indictment and accused him of trying to shift the blame. Yet state Sen. Wendy Davis, the face of the party in Texas who’s running a high-profile campaign for governor, took a more cautious tone Saturday.

“The charges that were brought down by the grand jury are very, very serious,” Davis said, adding that she trusted the justice system to do its job.

Tensions between Republicans and the public integrity unit have simmered for years. Conservatives have long grumbled that the unit operates through a partisan lens and targets Republicans.

Former U.S. House Majority Tom DeLay and former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, two Republicans, are among the biggest past names to have been indicted in Travis County on ethics charges. Hutchison was acquitted and an appeals court overturned a guilty verdict against DeLay.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

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Discussion | 16 comments

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  • rlw895August 17, 2014 - 4:48 am

    This story clarifies things. Too bad if Perry had to fight what he thinks is a meritless grand jury indictment. He's certainly not alone. But the way to fight it is in a courtroom, not through bluff and bluster.

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  • JimboAugust 17, 2014 - 10:14 am

    Typical Republican way: How can I play the victim for being caught?

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  • truth'nAugust 17, 2014 - 10:43 am

    You gave a Typical DemWit remark, full of ignorance. I watched the videos of the DUI arrest of Rosemary Lehmberg. She was wasted, drove against traffic (wrong way) and could easily of had a head on killing people. I am happy the good guys got her off the road, she should thank them. I support Gov Perry. This is not and should not be a "party" issue. This is total retaliation.

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  • truth'nAugust 17, 2014 - 10:44 am

    I watched the videos of the DUI arrest of Rosemary Lehmberg. She was wasted, drove against traffic (wrong way) and could easily of had a head on killing people. I am happy the good guys got her off the road, she should thank them. I support Gov Perry. This is total retaliation.

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  • CD BrooksAugust 17, 2014 - 11:03 am

    Truth'n, supporting Perry tells a lot about you and that's ugly business. There's a whole lot of losers just like him waiting in the wings. Too bad.

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  • Larry WAugust 17, 2014 - 2:20 pm

    The truth is that these charges should never be brought against Gov. Perry. The fact that many on the left give the drunk any type of credibility says everything about what democrats will do to get power. I just don't understand why reasonable people will stand by the likes of Eliot Spitzer, Bernie Ward, or Anthony Weiner.

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  • rlw895August 17, 2014 - 2:38 pm

    LW: Who's standing beside those three? All of them left their positions. No one is asking Perry to do the same without his day in court. If the charges have no merit, they will be thrown out in short order. I think Jimbo put it pretty well. Perry only magnifies the idea that he is the type who would abuse the power of his office by his reaction.

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  • rlw895August 17, 2014 - 2:17 pm

    t: Was that on YouTube, Fox, CNN, what?

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  • Larry WAugust 17, 2014 - 2:22 pm

    R. You tube has some lovely videos of your leader

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  • rlw895August 17, 2014 - 2:32 pm

    LW: The Internet has all sorts of stuff. People have had to learn to be discriminating.

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  • rlw895August 17, 2014 - 2:42 pm

    LW: The point is you guys go searching for this stuff if Fox, et al. doesn't serve it up for you. Did CNN or any other legitimate journalistic source air the drunk driver video? It's enough for me to read about it; I don't need to see it.

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  • Larry WAugust 17, 2014 - 2:58 pm

    Rlw. I have no idea who posted the video but I saw how UGLY her arrest and booking was. I for one would not be backing her but I guess that is just me. Sorry for you if you feel that this ok.

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  • RLW 895August 17, 2014 - 3:25 pm

    LW: But surely you watched it somewhere. Where did you see it? That's what I'm asking. And I'm not backing her; I'm backing the grand jury process. I'm not backing Perry's response to it. It's a diversion to what he did. Just like your comment.

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  • Larry WAugust 17, 2014 - 3:44 pm

    RLW. Once I saw the news that she was arrested for drunk driving I googled her name and what she was arrested for. Didn't look on Fox to find it but there were multiple sources of the video and her behavior. She lives in one of the more liberal areas in Texas and I am sure that a liberal grand jury in Austin would be willing to support charges against a republican for breathing. The end justifies the means you know.

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  • FDCAugust 17, 2014 - 4:33 pm

    OK, Rick/rlw: took about five minutes of research to find out that you are championing another of your left wing causes without any foundation other than your desire to talk bad about conservatives regardless of the issue. In this case, Professor (a real one, not the phony title given to the Community Organizer) Alan Dershowitz says he is "outraged" by the indictment. He further says "Everybody, liberal or conservative, should stand against this indictment." David Axelrod said "...indictment seems pretty sketchy." Democrat strategist Doug Schoen called the indictment "outrageous" and predicted that it would bring grief to the Democrats if they push it any further. So, Rick/rlw, you lose. But based on your past performances you will figure out someway to run away from this.

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  • rlw895August 17, 2014 - 4:56 pm

    FDC: It's not much to figure out. I made it in the first comment here.

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