Texas Gov. Rick Perry was indicted on two felony counts Friday for abuse of power over a threat to veto prosecutors’ funding. The Associated Press reports:
A grand jury indicted Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Friday for abusing the powers of his office by carrying out a threat to veto funding for state prosecutors investigating public corruption — making the possible 2016 presidential hopeful his state’s first indicted governor in nearly a century.
A special prosecutor spent months calling witnesses and presenting evidence that Perry broke the law when he promised publicly to nix $7.5 million over two years for the public integrity unit, which is run by Travis County District Rosemary Lehmberg’s office.
The Texas Observer attempts to track down where the whole lawsuit started.
Like many schemes, it started with vodka. Rosemary Lehmberg had been serving as Travis County DA for a little more than four years when, late on the night of April 12, 2013, she was pulled over near Lake Travis, west of Austin. Police found an open vodka bottle in the car and arrested her. She verbally berated the arresting officers, and she didn’t stop the verbal abuse when she got to jail. Lehmberg was strapped into a restraining chair. Hours after her arrest, she blew a .239, almost three times the legal limit.
Why didn’t Lehmberg resign?
In a word, politics. Lehmberg is a Democrat, and if she stepped down, Rick Perry would be the one to appoint a replacement. Moreover, the Travis County DA — as the prosecutor in the state’s capital — has special responsibilities over a variety of statewide legal issues. Foremost among these powers is the DA’s control of the Public Integrity Unit, which investigates the ethical breaches of state politicians, among a number of other charges.
Perry’s lawyers are confident.