By now you know that Governor Perry has been indicted on two felony charges: “abuse of official capacity,” a first degree felony, and “coercion of a public servant,” a third degree felony. More specifically, he publicly threatened to veto funding for the Travis County District Attorney's Public Integrity Unit, or PIU, if DA Lehmberg did not resign her position, and apparently privately offered to restore funding and give her another job if she did resign, which would have allowed Perry to appoint her successor.
We didn't expect Governor Perry to take responsibility for his actions, but his defense of smearing Rosemary Lehmberg and complaining the indictment was political does not answer the charges of his indictment.
Perry's PR offensive of character assassination and deflection may work in the court of public opinion, but it won't work in a court of law.
Below the jump is more information on the Governor's wrongdoing that will help you not only understand where the spin is coming from and how to respond. 1. This is NOT about Rosemary Lehmberg's DWI. Governor Perry has a history of ignoring DAs' DWI arrests; two other DAs and other high ranking officials have been convicted for driving drunk during the Governor's terms, and he has not demanded their resignations.
2. The DA's actions were terrible, but she not only pled guilty, served time, and went through rehab, but she won a removal lawsuit (with a Republican judge), which is the legal way to have removed her.
3. And this is NOT about the veto. The veto is not the problem – what is at issue is the coercive use of the threat of a veto, threatening to defund the Public Integrity Unit of the DA's office if the DA did not resign, and, after the veto, the offering of perks, which some might call “bribes” (which is why the Governor recently referred to his “bribery” indictment), to induce her to resign when the threats did not work.
4. The investigation and indictment are about one thing: the Governor's abuse of power in trying to stop the Public Integrity Unit of the DA's office from investigating the scandal involving the Texas cancer research agency, or CPRIT, that could be politically harmful to him. Specifically, the PIU of the DA's office was investigating some of the governor's cronies for using CPRIT to funnel kickbacks to GOP donors. This is what the Governor wanted to stop, and what motivated him to abuse his power.
5. This is not about politics:
a. A Republican judge from outside of the county appointed a Republican lawyer / former prosecutor from San Antonio as special prosecutor. And the special prosecutor brought the charges to an independent grand jury. The Travis County DA and her office were not involved.
b. Contrary to the GOP's talking points, the special prosecutor was not on “Obama's short list” for US Attorney; that short list was actually Republican Senators Cornyn and Hutcheson's short list for Obama to consider.
6. This isn't just my opinion; Jim Henson, the nonpartisan Director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas, came to the same conclusion. He said Perry's use of DA Lehmberg's arrest video “certainly distracts and redirects attention from the actual charges…”
These are the facts; this is a serious indictment, notwithstanding Governor Perry's spin.
Jan Soifer, Chairwoman
Travis County Democratic Party