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Perry Indicted

[ 45 ] August 15, 2014 |

I’m as contemptuous of Perry as anyone, but this seems really thin.  To the extent that the statute reaches Perry’s behavior, itself kind of a stretch, it’s hard to see how the statute is consistent with the separation of powers established by the state constitution.

…more here.  And here.

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  1. PhoenixRising says:

    As to the veto, sure.

    As to the threat, though, I think Perry’s got a hill to climb to prove that ‘threatening to strip funding from an independently elected public official’s office’ isn’t ‘coercion’. If that’s not coercion, what would be?

  2. According to Faux, Pa Ferguson was convicted & run out of office on a similar basis, so maybe this is a Texas thing.

    We can all imagine corrupt uses of the otherwise valid veto power, but in the fed system I’d guess impeachment is the sole remedy. Texas case law may hold otherwise.

    • Snarki, child of Loki says:

      I think that traditionally they use the “that man needed shootin” remedy.

      • The Dark Avenger says:

        Yes, there was a man in my cousins home town in North Texas who was a bit of a PITA to his fellow citizens now and then. One day, he simply vanished, wasn’t seen around town, and had neither family nor friends who missed him. His disappearance was about a year old before the local LEO hat it reported to them, the exact reason I’m not sure of.

        Texas ain’t like any other place in America. Thank G-d!

        • M. Bouffant says:

          I remember a story like that on 60 Minutes, many many yrs. ago, although I don’t think it was in Texas, but a small town somewhere in the Midwest.

          I also remember the guy was more a serious threat than just a pain, but it was a loooong time ago.

          • The Dark Avenger says:

            Skidmore, MO. I was going to college when it happened. Googling Skidmore Missouri bully should bring up the story.

            The case in TX is just the tip of the iceberg. I can tell you stories that would get headlines in most any other state in the Union that weren’t or aren’t on the radar screen there.

            The one thing I did notice perusing the Dallas Morning News on my family visits out there seems to be a higher level of criminal violence than the Central San Joaquin, where everyday there is a stick-up of some sort and a murder at least every 3 or 4 days, usually in Fresno or other large cities like Madera or Visalia.

        • Moondog says:

          Texas ain’t like any other place in America.

          Wishful thinking.

          • The Dark Avenger says:

            The self-regard that Texans have for themselves is not legendary, it’s real. One of my first impressions in going around Ft. Worth is how many businesses incorporate Lone Star into their name. A lot of businesses here in CA have “Golden State Blah-blah-blah” as a name, but I’ve never seen half the businesses in a California business area call themselves “Golden State” as I did in TX.

            I don’t have any particular pride or shame in having one side of my family come from there, in fact one of my ancestors has a 500$ reward poster hanging in the Ft. Smith, AK museum. That was probably around the time that he decided that a sojourn in what was to be known as Oklahoma a few years later was the best thing to do for his own safety.

            A great place, to come away from.

    • M. Bouffant says:

      The NYT on that Ferguson:

      The last Texas governor to face criminal charges was James E. “Pa” Ferguson, who was indicted in 1917 by a Travis County grand jury on charges of embezzlement and eight other charges. His case also involved a veto that angered his critics: Mr. Ferguson vetoed the entire appropriation to the University of Texas because the university had refused to fire certain faculty members. The state Senate voted to impeach him, but he resigned the day before the judgment was announced.

      • Ah. I am surprised the NYT has more relevant detail than Fox.

        Still, that’s a good example, and brings to mind GOP nonsense today. Suppose Perry wanted a Texas prof fired, the school would not comply, so he vetoed their entire appropriation. Hm.

        Under Texas law, maybe Obama cd sue the House for not funding agencies it dislikes?

  3. Gwen says:

    He’ll be out of office in January either way.

    I think the “coercion” charge is the only one that can withstand any kind of appellate scrutiny.

    At any rate, Perry has now been Christie’d.

    • Ken says:

      Tomorrow’s Fox chyron: “WHO IS NEXT ON HILLARY’S POLITICAL HIT LIST?”

      Remember, it’s just a question, so you don’t need evidence. It also sets up the next one, “QUESTIONS RAISED ABOUT HILLARY’S ROLE IN THE INDICTMENT OF RICK PERRY (D-TX)”.

  4. randy khan says:

    I don’t know enough about Texas law even to be dangerous, but it’s pretty well established in public corruption cases that there are lots of things that a legislator or governor can be authorized to do by law, even authorized to do with complete discretion, that nevertheless can be predicate acts to violating bribery, etc. statutes. For instance, if Perry had been bribed by someone being investigated by the public integrity unit to veto its appropriation, I don’t think there’d be any doubt he could be indicted and convicted. As a result, I’m not sure there actually is a separation of powers argument.

    The real question in my mind is whether Perry reasonably can argue that it just was a political disagreement – he thought she should step down because of the drunk driving charge, and was trying to pressure her that way. The prosecution’s narrative seems to be that he was trying to shut down a specific investigation that could have reached him, which of course would look a lot different.

    And, by the way, what a peculiar setup – I can’t think of another state that does anything like delegating public integrity prosecutions to a single local prosecutor who happens to be in the state capital.

    • The Dark Avenger says:

      If you read a little Molly Ivans and her little portraits of ome of the members of the Lege in some of her columns, you’d understand why it might be needed.

      I don’t know about corruption cases, but the impression her little bios of them tended to become reminders that most of the people in the Lege aren’t exactly firing on all 8 cylinders intellectually and politically.

    • Mike G says:

      I can’t think of another state that does anything like delegating public integrity prosecutions to a single local prosecutor who happens to be in the state capital.

      Because it’s not designed to be an effective unit. It’s a bare-minimum deliberately hobbled operation to give a fig-leaf impression of accountability. Welcome to Texas.

  5. redrob says:

    An actual example of a grand jury being willing to “indict a ham sandwich”?

  6. mikeSchilling says:

    This is at least arguable, unlike the Don Siegelman railroading.

  7. KarenJo12 says:

    Perry is going to love this whole circus. The actions forming the basis of the case were within his authority, and there isn’t any evidence of corruption leading to the veto threat.

    The other problem with this case is that Rosemary Lemberg bloody well SHOULD have resigned. She got caught driving while completely polluted and then threatened to have the cops who arrested her fired. That tape is going to be Defense Exhibit #1 – #5,462 and the subject of every single question by Perry’s counsel. (Also, at least Lemberg’s political career is dead based on that arrest. She was a terrible DA.)

    • Moondog says:

      She should have resigned her elected post so that Perry could appoint her replacement? Hell no.

      • KarenJo12 says:

        Actually, she was convicted of a serious felony. She should have thought of the consequences before she got shitfaced drunk and then for behod the wheel. As much as I loathe Perry, I loathe drunk drivers more.

        • UserGoogol says:

          It’s not like she’s a bus driver or anything, her felony was unrelated to her job. (Threatening to use the position of the office is a different matter, but she was drunk, after all.) It seems unfair to expect someone to resign just because they’re a dangerous felon. Resigning isn’t going to make her any less likely to get into a car crash.

        • prodigal says:

          Actually, her conviction was for a misdemeanor rather than a felony. And conviction for a misdemeanor doesn’t disqualify her from continuing to serve, even if it’s a misdemeanor DUI charge.

        • RonC says:

          I’m always amazed about how positive people can be about things that aren’t true. I wonder if it is just on the internet?

    • Hogan says:

      Is she the one who prosecuted Tom DeLay?

      • KarenJo12 says:

        No, she’s the successor to the much-beloved Ronnie Earle. Earle prosecuted EVERYBODY, including DeLay, two Attorneys General and about half the state’s county sheriffs.

  8. […] contemptuous of Perry as anyone, but this seems really thin,” the site said in a post reacting to the indictment. “To the extent that the statute reaches Perry’s behavior, itself kind of a stretch, it’s […]

  9. […] as contemptuous of Perry as anyone, but this seems really thin,” the site said in a post reacting to the indictment. “To the extent that the statute reaches Perry’s behavior, itself kind of a stretch, […]

  10. Joe_JP says:

    Seems thin to me — even if okay under Texas law — but don’t tell that to some of the comments at Think Progress. It also is a rather bad factual situation (convicted drunk driver at a public integrity unit is a rather unsympathetic victim here). The funds are about more than one person, but you know she’s the one who is going to be focused upon by the defense.

  11. […] as contemptuous of Perry as anyone, but this seems really thin,” the site said in a post reacting to the indictment. “To the extent that the statute reaches Perry’s behavior, itself kind of a stretch, […]

  12. Woodlark says:

    Surely there is a kinder and gentler way get rid of a drunk and obnoxious DA, other than vetoing the whole budget of the whole frickin’ public integrity unit?

    • MattT says:

      Well, it was a win-win for Perry, given that the Travis County DA runs the public integrity unit. Lehmberg had just been reelected, and there is no provision for a special election if she resigns, so Travis County would have had a Perry hack for a DA for 4 years. This, to put it mildly, would not agree very well with the actual preferences of Travis County voters. Plus, all the local ADAs would almost certainly have been immediately fired to be replaced with more hacks. On the other hand, if Lehmberg stayed, Perry would have a good excuse to defund the public integrity unit, which is obviously something he would love to do.

      Basically Lehmberg screwed up massively and created an awful situation for Travis County, and Perry being Perry, did everything to make it worse. If Lehmber staying set a new precedent that public officials could get away with DWIs, I’d think she had to go regardless of the consequences. But she served her sentence, and the precedent was already set by other public officials who’d stayed in office after convictions, so having her stay was probably the least bad option.

      I’m totally unqualified to judge whether the charges against Perry are something that can hold up.

    • Manny Kant says:

      He should have promised to appoint a Democrat. Why does the governor get to appoint vacancies to the DA’s office, anyway?

  13. […] as contemptuous of Perry as anyone, but this seems really thin,” the site said in a post reacting to the indictment. “To the extent that the statute reaches Perry’s behavior, itself kind of a stretch, […]

  14. […] My God., Lawyers, Guns and Money, and Towleroad all share the news that Texas governor Rick Perry was indicted on multiple felony […]

  15. cdamon says:

    I’ve read that the ethics department was investigating some alleged breach of ethics when he threatened to veto funding. That brings a deeper layer to the accusations, doesn’t it, assuming the charge has any teeth.

    Otherwise, prosecuting him seems like a waste of time and money if action is politically motivated (although as long as they’re using TX money why not). Perry is never going to rise above his current political status. If by some fluke he should get the republican nomination for president he will never in a million years become president.

    • cdamon says:

      From Martin Longman @ Political Animal:

      His veto was a line-item veto against the appropriation for the state’s Public Integrity Unit, which was controlled by the District Attorney. By shutting down their funding, he was effectively shutting down investigations, including an investigation into the issuance of grants by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. Corruption at the Cancer Institute was a subject that Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott had no interest in pursuing.

  16. Heron says:

    It’s really not that complicated; a Texas gov has the right to veto funding, but not the right to veto funding with the specific intent of coercing action from a public servant. Perry had no authority to remove Lehmburg, so he tried to force her out of office by using an authority he did have, but there is a law in Texas that makes doing precisely that illegal.

    If he had cut all State-funding to the city of a mayor he didn’t like, after publicly declaring that he would do so if that mayor didn’t resign, would that sound thin to you? What’s the difference here?

    • Joe_JP says:

      A comment above alludes to his line item veto power.

      How about we reframe it. He was trying to protect the public and the public integrity office in question. It wasn’t personal. It was to protect the integrity of the office from a convicted drunk driver. An agency run by someone tainted is tainted.

      It isn’t really a simple bit of line-drawing. Various vetoes can negatively affect single people or groups. If there is a credible public interest reason involved, it is complicated.

  17. […] The liberal blogosphere appears to be coming to that conclusion, and obviously the conservasphere is already there. [EDIT: Decide for yourself: indictment here (h/t @zic). Bit of background here. I haven’t found a good, patient case from a conservative for why this is so ill-founded, so obvious do they take it to be so. (I also looked for a backgrounder from a less partisan source than Think Progress, but that one by Ian Millhiser is by far the best one that I’ve see.) The skeptical case against it as voiced by liberals can be read here or here or here.) […]

  18. prodigal says:

    Thin hell, the only significant difference between Perry threatening to remove all funding to the Public Integrity Unit if she didn’t resign and a Mafia goon saying how this is such a nice business and it’d be a real shame if anything happened to it because you didn’t pay your protection money is that I don’t believe Perry is Italian.

  19. […] as contemptuous of Perry as anyone, but this seems really thin,” the site said in a post reacting to the indictment. “To the extent that the statute reaches Perry’s behavior, itself kind of a stretch, it’s […]

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