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.


  1. Robert says

    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!

  2. John in Texas says

    “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!

  3. edude says

    “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.

  4. anon says

    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.

  5. woodroad34 says

    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 wage…you know, like all shady Republican ex-governors running for President do…de regeur.

  6. Mr. Z says

    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.

  7. MIke says

    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.

  8. Diogenes says

    The key is that Austin is in Travis County. If she could not get an indictment against Perry there she would have to be totally incompetent.

    Remember again that an indictment is not a conviction. This in entire affair has the whiff of petty political bickering.

  9. Bernie says

    There is so much irony and humor in this story….first of all, no one deserves this more than Perry, who is the epitome of the Republicans and a total moron! And, here the Texas Republicans are calling this unfair!! How is it unfair when the Republicans are trying to sue/impeach President Obama?!?!?!!??!?! Irony bites you in the ass all the time!! This story has made me laugh my ass off!

  10. Bill says

    Dems in Texas are dancing in the streets. This smug, frat boy, repulsive “Mofo” has done ZERO for Texas minorities (women, Hispanics, LGBT, the poor, etc.). NADA. He’s only about one thing – keeping it real for “Gated Community” Fox News Repubs. The tragically sad news is that the Repub nominee to replace him as Governor, Greg Abbott, is even worse!! Thank God Wendy Davis is closing the gap in the polls. PLEASE SUPPORT WENDY DAVIS! Texas can’t survive yet another Fascist Republican dictatorship.

  11. SteveAR says

    The charges against Perry will be dropped, and the alcoholic gay Democrat will be shown as an embarrassment for abusing her position with this obvious political indictment. And by the way, DeLay was completely exonerated of all charges.

  12. says

    Rick’s national political ambitions ended at Ooops, so this is just a Texas sideshow. Grab your popcorn and cocktails! Speaking of drinking, Ol’ Rick and Rosemary seem to have that in common–who can forget Rick’s flamboyantly slurry performance in NH? YouTube is not his friend …

  13. Nats20005 says

    The DA pled guilty and served 45 days in jail. Do you really think she should have continued to head up that office? Or should she have resigned?

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