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Interview: Rick Perry's Indictment is About More Than a Veto

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Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT
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During a press conference at the Texas State Capitol, Gov. Rick Perry called the indictment against him a farce and an "abuse of power."

The indictment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry on criminal charges has gained national attention – particularly since Gov. Perry is being seen as a possible presidential contender.

In a speech given at the conservative Heritage Foundation, Perry defended himself by saying he was acting within the constitutional boundaries of his veto authority. While much of the debate has centered around Perry’s veto authority, the real legal debate is much more serious. 

The Texas Standard’s David Brown speaks with Andrew Wheat, research director at Texans For Public Justice. Wheat was one of the first to file a complaint against Perry – an action that later resulted in an indictment. Wheat sheds some light on some of the more criminal elements of the case and how he came about them.

Interview Highlights

On filing the original complaint:
"
[The Austin American-Statesman] contained a story talking about how Governor Perry issued some threats to our District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg – basically saying that she had to resign her elected office, or he was going to veto funds for the Public Integrity Unit, which her office runs … So we started to take a little look at the statutes and we found four things that seemed on point for potential felonies. … We ended up filing a complaint with the appropriate authority, who ironically in this case was the same Rosemary Lehmberg."

On Rick Perry’s veto power:

"Everybody agrees [Perry] has veto power. Our complaint, interestingly enough, was filed shortly before the veto even occurred. Why? Because it didn’t have to do with the veto, it had to do with threatening another official, in the context of which the veto was kind of the billy-club used to threaten the official in demanding she step down. It was the threats that caused the problem, not the veto itself."

David entered radio journalism thanks to a love of storytelling, an obsession with news, and a desire to keep his hair long and play in rock bands. An inveterate political junkie with a passion for pop culture and the romance of radio, David has reported from bases in Washington, London, Los Angeles, and Boston for Monitor Radio and for NPR, and has anchored in-depth public radio documentaries from India, Brazil, and points across the United States and Europe. He is, perhaps, known most widely for his work as host of public radio's Marketplace. Fulfilling a lifelong dream of moving to Texas full-time in 2005, Brown joined the staff of KUT, launching the award-winning cultural journalism unit "Texas Music Matters."
Rhonda joined KUT in late 2013 as producer for the station's new daily news program, Texas Standard. Rhonda will forever be known as the answer to the trivia question, “Who was the first full-time hire for The Texas Standard?” She’s an Iowa native who got her start in public radio at WFSU in Tallahassee, while getting her Master's Degree in Library Science at Florida State University. Prior to joining KUT and The Texas Standard, Rhonda was a producer for Wisconsin Public Radio.
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