Rick Perry Indicted on Two Charges of Abuse of Power
UPDATE (8/16): Gov. Perry addressed Friday's indictments in a short press conference, today. "We don’t settle political differences with indictments in this country," he said. "It is outrageous that some would use partisan political theatrics to rip away at the very fabric of our state’s constitution. This indictment amounts to nothing more than abuse of power and I cannot and I will not allow that to happen." Perry further added: "I intend to fight against those who would erode our state’s constitution and laws purely for political purposes and I intend to win."
A Travis County grand jury has indicted Texas Governor Rick Perry on two felony counts: Abuse of Official Capacity and Coercion of a Public Servant. This comes after an investigation began in the fall of 2013 after vetoing state funds for the Travis County district attorney's office last year when District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg refused to resign her post after a DUI conviction. This makes Gov. Perry the first Texas governor to face criminal charges in nearly 100 years.
Michael McCrum, Special Prosecutor assigned to the case, attempted to indict Perry in April, but the jury has only now reached a positive indictment. Gov. Perry is now required to turn himself into Travis County Jail for booking, fingerprinting, and a mug shot, and a pre-hearing trial is expected to be held in the next few weeks.
D.A. Lehmberg was arrested last year after sheriff's deputies found an open container of vodka in the passenger seat of her car. She was sentenced to 45 days in jail, of which she served 21. In the aftermath of the conviction, Perry threatened to veto $7.5 million of funding for Lehmberg's anti-corruption unit unless she resigned. When she did not, he followed through on the threat.
Now, Perry faces between 5 and 99 years in prison if convicted of abuse of official capacity and an additional 2 to 10 years if convicted of coercion of a public servant. If he is convicted on the possible additional charge of bribery, he could be punished with up to 20 years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
Gov. Perry can continue in his position as governor while under indictment, or even if convicted. However, a separate legislative removal process could strip him of his office.