Last week, the San Antonio Express-News reported that Texas taxpayers “have picked up a tab topping $40,000 so far for the defense lawyer hired to represent Gov. Rick Perry in a grand jury investigation over whether he misused his power with a veto threat.”
Rick Perry is currently under investigation for potential bribery, coercion, and abuse of office. What's being investigated is his attempt to force Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg to resign after her DUI last year.
When the grand jury investigation began, Perry hired the former president of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, David Botsford, to defend him. Botsford charges $450 an hour–luckily for Perry, he's not the one paying the bill. Instead, that has fallen to Texas taxpayers.
That's right, taxpayers are the ones responsible for footing the $450 an hour bill to defend Rick Perry from possible corruption charges.
Rick Perry is under investigation for making good on a threat to veto $7.5 million for the Travis County DA's Public Integrity Unit if Rosemary Lehmberg did not resign. As the San Antonio Express-News reported, Perry's office “previously has said legal fees would be paid from general revenue because the inquiry concerned actions by Perry while acting in his official capacity.”
When the San Antonio Express-News requested records of the bills Perry has submitted thus far under the Public Information Act, Perry's office refused to release them. Instead, a spokeswoman “pointed out as a courtesy that the state comptroller's website showed a $41,670 payment from Perry's office to Botsford on June 18 for legal services.” Since that record is from a month ago, the total cost to taxpayers is likely even higher than the $40,000+ Texans have already paid.
Additionally, the federal prosecutor in the case had “submitted invoices for expenses totaling $22,569.50” as of June 12, bringing the total taxpayer cost of Rick Perry's criminal investigation to over $60,000 so far.
Perry's attorney claimed that releasing records of his bills would violate attorney-client privilege. His office asked Attorney General Greg Abbott to rule on the matter. Considering that Greg Abbott is also implicated in the investigation, it seems likely he'll rule in favor of Perry. (The Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), which Abbott was overseeing, was under investigation by the Travis County DA's Public Integrity Unit when Perry issued the veto.)
The grand jury investigating Perry met once again last week. Testimony appears to be wrapping up, which means Texans could soon know whether our governor will face formal corruption charges.