TEXAS GOVERNOR ACCUSED OF ABUSE OF POWER, COERCION
Just as he was beginning to reemerge on the national political stage, Texas Gov. Rick Perry saw his future thrown in jeopardy when a Lone Star State grand jury indicted him on two counts of public corruption.
A grand jury in Travis County (home of the state capital in Austin) indicted Perry on abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant – charges related to his decision to veto funding for a local public corruption unit led by one of his political rivals.
San Antonio special prosecutor Michael McCrum is leading the investigation and says he is “ready to move forward” with the case against Perry. Meanwhile the governor’s supporters have accused the prosecutor of engaging in a witch hunt – and reaffirmed Perry’s right to veto the $7.5 million in question.
“The veto in question was made in accordance with the veto authority afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution. We will continue to aggressively defend the governor’s lawful and constitutional action, and believe we will ultimately prevail,” Perry’s attorney said in a statement.
The veto stems from the arrest of Democrat Rosemary Lehmberg – a district attorney who runs the Travis County public integrity unit. In April 2013, Lehmberg was observed driving erratically – weaving in and out of her lane and even crossing into oncoming traffic at one point. She arrested by Travis County deputies for driving under the influence of alcohol after her blood alcohol level was recorded at nearly three times the legal limit.
On top of all that, Lehmberg engaged in an epic drunk hissy fit after her arrest … self-important ranting, raving and threatening which quickly became the stuff of YouTube legend.
Take a look …
(Click to play)
At the time Lehmberg was popped for driving while intoxicated, her unit was probing Perry’s involvement with the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) – one of the governor’s pet projects. According to reports, the CPRIT – whose former director has also been indicted – was using taxpayer money to dole out favors to Perry supporters.
“A lot of (the Institute’s) money was going to people who shouldn’t have gotten it,” The Texas Observer reported back in April. “And some of those folks had close ties to Perry.”
In fact Peloton Therapeutics, a company which gave $440,000 to the campaigns of Perry and his lieutenant governor, received an $11 million grant from CPRIT with no formal review.
Sounds like that’s the real scandal to us …
Anyway when Lehmberg was busted for DWI, Perry’s machine pounced – demanding her resignation and basically holding funding for her office hostage. Perry, incidentally, would have been in charge of naming Lehmberg’s replacement in the event she resigned – which she refused to do.
Our view on this scandal? Well, we’ve known Perry was a crony capitalist for a long time … yet another aspiring “Republican” presidential candidate who habitually put the interests of a select few over the interests of the rest of us. So it doesn’t surprise us in the least to learn there are additional allegations of that sort of behavior …
But what about the veto that forms the basis of this indictment?
Eh … we’re not ready to call this scandal a “nothing burger” just yet (after all Perry must turn himself in, go through booking and appear in court on the corruption charges) but it certainly seems to us that the real corruption in this case involves the crony capitalism, not the veto.
Unless of course Perry was attempting to obstruct justice by blocking funding to a group that had the goods on him …