Governor Rick Perry seems undaunted by his indictment. He has carried on with his 2016 playbook like it was just another chapter. But, beyond the political rewriting some serious charges have been levied and they could carry serious consequences.
While in China on Friday he was asked about his 2016 bid and said, “I will make that decision probably next year sometime, so I know to be prepared this time — that preparation is a great deal of what this is all about.”
As Texas’ longest serving Governor, Perry has spent 14 years smirking his way past minor public relations SNAFUs like HPV and the Trans Texas Corridor. He knows it will take more than a folksy anecdote this time, but he still can’t avoid the very same hubris that got him in trouble in the first place.
He told a group of business leaders, “I’ve been indicted by that same body now for I think two counts, one of bribery, which I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t really understand the details here.”
Perry agreed to pay his future legal fees but he has already billed Texas taxpayers over $130,000, so the least we could expect is that he reads and understands the two page indictment. For the record, he has been charged with “abuse of official capacity,” a first degree felony, and “coercion of a public servant,” a third degree felony. They carry sentences ranging from 5-99 years and 2-10 years respectfully.
That’s real time, especially for someone spending more of it thinking about getting into the White House than avoiding the Big House.
Some knowledgeable observers have suggested that even though special prosecutor Mike McCrum may have offered up two charges it would not be uncommon for only the lesser them to be pursued for a conviction. Still even with the best lawyers taxpayers can buy he should be concerned enough and respectful enough of the serious nature of his situation to know the 9 words that spell out the charges of his indictment.
“Those concerned that Perry’s indictment represents the criminalization of politics have it exactly backward. The threat to democracy is the increasing politicization of criminality, and the creation of different standards of conduct based on who engages in it.” – from The Hill
I understand Perry trying to spin the indictment as political, even though that argument has thoroughly been discredited, but he seems to genuinely scoff at the idea of accountability — and he wants to be President. He has accused our current President of being “power hungry” and “oppressive,” yet he is fully exercising a foreign policy complete with troops and invitations to heads of state — as a Governor.
The fact that Governor Perry doesn’t take his legal troubles serious doesn’t mean they aren’t serious, it means he has been in power too long. During his reign over state government he has appointed over 3000 people to various posts so he probably didn’t think he would see the day that same government would reign him in.
But as the Republican appointed special prosecutor Mike McCrum said, “I took into account the fact that we’re talking about … the governor of the state of Texas, which we all love. Obviously, that carries a level of importance, but when it gets down to it, the law is the law.”
While President Obama is being used as a political pinata for the GOP around the country, in his mother’s home state of Kansas, the albatross of Rick Perry’s indictment is being tied around the ankles of Gov. Sam Brownback whom Perry is there stomping and raising money for. That I’m sure, is just a taste of what is to come before his own party members see him as either a threat to the Party’s viability, or to their own presidential ambitions.
The fact that I do love Texas means I don’t want our state to endure the embarrassment of a convicted or imprisoned Governor and ultimately it will take the judgement of voters to change the culture of cronyism and can-kicking.
If Perry does find his way to pokey it he will be just a drop in the bucket for Texas’ nation leading prison population, but he’ll no longer have the power to stay the execution of his own political career.
Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.