Why Rick Perry’s indictment is in no way “bogus”

PerryMugShotI’ve been told by quite a few people just in the last few days that my support for the indictment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry was misplaced, misguided and completely partisan. Actually, it’s none of those things. I admit to being partisan, however Perry is not running for another term as governor, and he has less than a snowball’s chance in hell of ever becoming president, and I don’t care about party affiliation when it comes to this issue. This is about abuse of power, and nothing more or less, and those who abuse power should be drummed out of office, if not sent to jail.

The two crimes for which Perry was indicted included abuse of power and coercion of a public servant, and even on the surface there is plenty of evidence to support indictment for both of these crimes. These are serious crimes because, in order for someone to be convicted of these crimes, it must be proven that they abused some level of public trust. Within the state of Texas, the level of public trust doesn’t get much higher than Governor.

The details of Perry’s alleged crimes are that he essentially used his veto of a bill that included $7.5 million in funding to the state-funded Travis County Public integrity Unit, which is a group that investigates ethical problems and corruption. He essentially demanded that District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg resign her position with that group, after she was convicted of DUI.

Now, I understand the argument that Lehmberg should resign from the commission that investigates ethics because she was recently convicted of DUI. As far as I’m concerned, anyone convicted of a DUI should have to resign as district attorney. The problem is that decision regarding the removal of a district attorney is up to the people of Travis County and Governor Perry. Did Perry have the right to veto the bill? Yes, of course he did. However, he did not have the right to attach conditions that favored himself over the people of Travis County regarding the removal of an elected official. Oh, right; did you know that the PIU was investigating corruption in the governor’s office at the time he defunded them? And did you know that, if Lehmberg had indeed resigned, Perry, as governor, would’ve had the power to replace her with someone of his choosing. What more could a potentially corrupt politician ask for than to handpick the person who will investigate him?

Another problem with Perry’s approach to this issue is it shows a tremendous inconsistency. According to a new report from the Dallas Morning News, Perry essentially ignored four other previous drunk driving arrests by district attorneys while Perry was governor. of course, the other four district attorneys were Republicans, and weren’t in a position to build a corruption case against him. one of the four district attorneys was actually convicted of DUI twice. yet, when Lehmberg was arrested for DUI, Perry was outraged and actually defunded the PIU in a bid to get rid of her. That level of inconsistency is like the cherry on top of the corruption sundae.

I would also point out that the Perry indictment was not handed down by DA Lehmberg. It was handed down by a grand jury, made up of 23 citizens of the state of Texas. The grand jury looked at evidence supplied by a special prosecutor, and not DA Lehmberg. In fact, she had nothing to do with the investigation or the grand jury. Therefore, because she had no role in the seeking of the indictment, the implication that somehow she’s getting revenge on Gov. Perry has absolutely no validity whatsoever. is it possible that something partisan is going on here? Sure. Perry ignored for DUI convictions by Republican district attorneys, while holding PIU funding hostage with Democrat Lehmberg’s DUI. Yep, that’s pretty partisan.

There you have it. A sitting governor who is being investigated by a group charged with investigating ethics and corruption, and he uses the pretense of the District Attorney’s arrest for drunk driving as a rationale for getting her to resign, so that he can replace her and take pressure off himself. If that’s not the definition of abuse of power, then what is?

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One comment

  1. I agree, Milt. This isn’t ‘tit for tat’ with the Dems taking cheap shots at a governor’s executive power. This was brought by the Grand Jury. Those who sneer and use the meme that a GJ would ‘indict a ham sandwich’ it isn’t true. I testified on a federal Grand Jury that did NOT return a true bill despite significant evidence. They aren’t stupid and can see when someone has violated the law and when it’s executive right. I’m sorry as anything that columnist Leonard Pitts thinks this action is bogus – he’s a very insightful person, and I believe what people worry about is the perception of political retaliation rather than the actual facts. That said, do we let the corrupt off the hook just because it might “look bad”??

    Several governors are under major scrutiny for their abuses of power and corrupt acts. They are all Republicans. That says far more about their mindset of arrogance than it ever will about ‘retaliation’. That would be more evident if we had media seriously devoted to issues rather than histrionics. That again does not let the corrupt off the hook for their dirty deeds, and I hope the prosecutors will push on in Texas and elsewhere.

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