AUSTIN (Legal Newsline) – The Democratic gubernatorial candidate and committee funding her campaign to become Texas’ next governor reacted immediately to Friday’s news that GOP Gov. Rick Perry, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, had been indicted on two felony charges.
Following the breaking news, state Sen. Wendy Davis issued a statement calling the allegations that Perry attempted to coerce a public official into resigning through abuse of his veto power “troubling” but that she has “confidence in our justice system to do its job.”
More condemning of Perry was a political action committee that has donated more than $1.2 million to Davis in recent months, including a $949,387.67 donation on June 30, according to the Texas Ethics Commission.
On Friday, Battleground Texas issued the following statement: “Rick Perry’s indictment for abuse of official capacity and coercion is just the latest example of Republicans failing to work for Texans. Whether it’s Rick Perry’s indictment, (Attorney General) Greg Abbott’s sweetheart deals for campaign contributors, or (lt. governor candidate) Dan Patrick’s blistering anti-immigrant rhetoric – the GOP has shown time and again they put politics and their friends ahead of Texas communities.”
Attorney Greg Abbott, the GOP nominee for governor, has remained more muted on the matter, openly questioning how Perry could be indicted for exercising his veto power but also saying “I don’t know what to think of it” on Saturday during a Fox News interview.
Perry’s indictment stems from the April 2013 drunk driving arrest of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, who eventually pleaded guilty.
Booking footage of the incident shows Lehmberg being belligerent with law enforcement officers.
During the media feeding frenzy, Perry called on Lehmberg to resign. When she refused, Perry made good on his threat to veto $7.5 million budgeted for the public integrity unit, which investigates public corruption in the state and is directed by the district attorney.
Attorney Mary Anne Wiley, general counsel for Perry, said in a Friday statement that the governor’s actions were allowed under the law.
“The veto in question was made in accordance with the veto authority afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution,” Wiley said. “We will continue to aggressively defend the governor’s lawful and constitutional action, and believe we will ultimately prevail.”
Abuse of official capacity is a first-degree felony that carries a sentence of up to 99 years in prison. The coercion charge is a third-degree felony with a sentence range of two to 10 years.
Reach David Yates at firstname.lastname@example.org