Governor Perry Booked on Two Felony Counts
Texas Governor Rick Perry has been booked at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Complex in Austin on two felony counts: Abuse of Official Capacity and Coercion of a Public Servant.
Perry was fingerprinted and photographed and then left the courthouse.
The charges stem from Perry’s threat to veto state funding for a Travis County based investigative unit with jurisdiction over state officials, unless District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg resigned in the wake of a DWI conviction.
Speaking at the courthouse today, Perry called his indictment a political witch hunt.
"This indictment is a political act that seeks to achieve at the courthouse what could not be achieved at the ballot box,” Perry said, as several dozen supporters cheered before heading into the courthouse. “We don’t resolve political disputes or policy differences by indictments; we don’t criminalize political or policy disagreements. We will prevail.”
Gov. Perry’s been indicted on charges he abused his office when he allegedly demanded Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg resign, or he would veto $7.5 million dollars in state funding for the Public Integrity Unit, the legal team that polices corruption in Texas agencies and by state lawmakers.
The veto threat happened after Lehmberg, who oversees the unit, refused to resign following a drunken driving arrest.
Last week a grand jury indicted Perry on two felony counts. After getting a mug shot and fingerprints taken, he reiterated his innocence.
"I remain focused on the work of the people of this state," Perry said. "Doing the job I was elected to do, and I will not be distracted by these baseless political charges. Thank you and God bless you."
But Jan Soifer, the chair of the Travis County Democratic Party, says this isn’t about Lehmberg being a Democrat.
"He tried through illegal means to remove her from office, because her office was investigating some of his cronies in connection with alleged kickbacks in the cancer research fund," Soifer said.
Lehmberg’s unit had been investigating a state agency called the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, which was under scrutiny because of accusations of mismanagement and corruption.
Meanwhile, Steve Munisteri, the chair of the Texas Republican Party, says neither the indictment, nor the mug shot, will hurt Perry’s presumed 2016 presidential ambitions.
"I have a prediction for you," he said. "He’s going to rise in the polls over the next few weeks. I think [it’s] absolutely going to help him so long as he can get the charges resolved before the Iowa caucuses."
After leaving the courthouse, Perry apparently got ice cream.
Perry's arraignment is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Friday. The governor does not plan to attend, as he will be attending several political events in New Hampshire, an early presidential primary state.