Crime | News | Rick Perry | Texas

Texas Governor Rick Perry Indicted On Felony Charges of Coercion and Abuse of Official Capacity


In a move that might complicate Rick Perry's 2016 presidential ambitions, a grand jury in Texas has just indicted the long-time governor on two charges related to his effort last year to force District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg to resign after her drunken driving arrest. 

LehmbergLehmberg [pictured], the first woman and first openly gay District Attorney in Travis County, runs the state’s Public Integrity Unit (PIU) which is charged with investigating wrongdoing by state officials. After her arrest and guilty plea for a drunk driving incident in April 2013, Perry called on her to resign and threatened to withhold $7.2 million in state money from the PIU if she refused.

Lehmberg refused and Perry carried through with his veto threat. The two felony charges, abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public official, stem from this.

The AP reports:

Several top aides to the Republican governor appeared before grand jurors in Austin, including his deputy chief of staff, legislative director and general counsel. Perry himself did not testify, though.

Grand jurors indicted Perry on abuse of official capacity, a first-degree felony with potential punishments of five to 99 years in prison, and coercion of a public servant, a third-degree felony that carries a punishment of two to 10 years. [...]

"I took into account the fact that we're talking about a governor of a state — and a governor of the state of Texas, which we all love," said Michael McCrum, the San Antonio-based special prosecutor. "Obviously that carries a lot of importance. But when it gets down to it, the law is the law."

The Austin-American Statesman continues:

Lehmberg supporters said Perry’s actions constituted political retribution; Many Republicans have said the Public Integrity Unit has unfairly targeted their party for prosecutions. The Travis County District Attorney’s office has for decades been led by Democrats, including Lehmberg.

As head of the PIU, Lehmberg was credited in 2010 with convicting U.S. House Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay for money laundering. Had Lehmberg resigned after her arrest and conviction, Perry would have been able to name her replacement, likely a Republican.   

Austin's KXAN adds that an indictment indicates the grand jury believes the state has a strong enough case to send to trial and is not an admission of guilt. McCrum told reporters he plans to meet with Perry's attorneys on Monday.

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  1. Hmm. Democrat v. Republican getting pretty rough. She has balls.

    Posted by: Markt | Aug 15, 2014 7:56:38 PM

  2. Could we be so lucky as to see the Governor behind bars? Oh happy day!

    Posted by: Mike Ryan | Aug 15, 2014 8:03:10 PM

  3. This will be interesting to watch play out.

    Posted by: lonewolfen | Aug 15, 2014 8:05:57 PM

  4. Oh, I know what is happening. Someone out there figured the gay world needed some good news after the week we've had and waved their magical wand of justice.

    Thank you, Justice Fairy!

    Posted by: Robert | Aug 15, 2014 8:07:07 PM

  5. well, at least he h'ain't a homsekshul felon.

    Posted by: ben in oakland | Aug 15, 2014 8:10:05 PM

  6. If he threatened to withdraw money, isn't that blackmail?

    Posted by: petey | Aug 15, 2014 8:13:56 PM

  7. Felony charges? It couldn't happen to a better man.

    Posted by: 604brian | Aug 15, 2014 8:17:17 PM

  8. Not excusing Perry's coercion, she should have resigned out of respect for her office.

    Posted by: Trevor | Aug 15, 2014 8:21:07 PM

  9. Oops.

    Posted by: Josh | Aug 15, 2014 8:31:24 PM

  10. "Many Republicans have said the Public Integrity Unit has unfairly targeted their party for prosecutions."

    When you're the majority party, and have been the majority party for decades, of course you're going to be accused of more wrongdoing. Especially when you're doing so much wrong!

    Posted by: John in Texas | Aug 15, 2014 8:50:51 PM

  11. "Grand jurors indicted Perry on abuse of official capacity, a first-degree felony with potential punishments of five to 99 years in prison, and coercion of a public servant, a third-degree felony that carries a punishment of two to 10 years."

    Maybe that's a medical condition, causing that behavior that most of us would avoid? I guess I'll have to "leave that to the psychologists and the doctors," as Perry said.

    Posted by: edude | Aug 15, 2014 8:57:00 PM

  12. Surprised to learn drunk driving is against the law in Texas

    Posted by: JonnyNYNY2FLFL | Aug 15, 2014 9:00:51 PM

  13. Well its not like he has a snow ball chance in hell of getting to the presidency anyway. This is big news for Texas and Texas only.

    Posted by: ny2.0 | Aug 15, 2014 10:15:08 PM

  14. bye, felicia!

    Posted by: northalabama | Aug 15, 2014 10:52:14 PM

  15. He might end up being cell mates with Chris Christie.
    Or, he could plead ignorance of the law. I'd believe that.

    Posted by: james street james | Aug 15, 2014 10:59:51 PM

  16. You can indict a ham sandwich. The Supreme Court has struck down similarly vague laws, and it's likely these laws will also be struck down. The problem is what constitutes abuse and what is the harm? If the prosecutor has too much discretion then the law will have to fall by the wayside.

    Posted by: anon | Aug 15, 2014 11:05:34 PM

  17. You people are idiots if you think anything will come of this. Perry will emerge a saint and defender of the integrity of the state.

    Posted by: Enchantra | Aug 15, 2014 11:06:53 PM

  18. All the judges are his golfing buddies. They will find a way to get him off the charge because they all p#ss in the same pot !

    Posted by: Icebloo | Aug 15, 2014 11:44:52 PM

  19. Tex....ASS !

    Posted by: steve | Aug 16, 2014 1:01:20 AM

  20. Oh, he'll be fine. All he has to do is either star in a "wilderness Texas" reality show on something like TLC or start a blog where he looks like he's had a stroke and talk about raising the minimum know, like all shady Republican ex-governors running for President regeur.

    Posted by: woodroad34 | Aug 16, 2014 1:45:04 AM

  21. Couldn't have happened to a worse @$$hole.

    Bye, Felicia!

    Posted by: FuryOfFirestorm | Aug 16, 2014 2:27:32 AM

  22. It wasn't mentioned in the article, but the special prosecutor who brought the chargest against Rick Perry is a staunch Republican, and Perry was also immediately denied a change of venue. He'll be tried in Austin, the bluest part of Texas. Lots of people on both sides of the political aisle have been waiting for this day. He is not well liked.

    Posted by: Mr. Z | Aug 16, 2014 2:59:19 AM

  23. Her blood alcohol level was 0.26 and they've already released her arrest video where she's a belligerent drunk. Perry would be re-elected tomorrow by a landslide if he was running. It's just going to raise his national profile.

    Posted by: MIke | Aug 16, 2014 5:09:33 AM

  24. Keeping the "Con" in conservative!

    Posted by: Smuggy | Aug 16, 2014 5:42:21 AM

  25. buh bye, Rick. Can't wait to see you go.

    Posted by: peter | Aug 16, 2014 6:26:01 AM

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