Government & Politics

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Indict 'Em

Texas Dems can't handle Gov. Rick Perry, so they're taking him to court on frivolous charges.

Aug. 18, 2014

Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry has been at the helm of the Lone Star State since December 2000. During that time, Texas has been a national leader in economic growth, job creation and energy production. That success put Perry in the mix for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012 and likely will again in 2016. It also slaps a Texas-sized target on his back for Democrats.

The latest salvo from the Left was a grand jury indictment of the governor on Friday. Perry’s crime? Vetoing appropriations – or, more accurately, threatening to veto the appropriations before actually doing so. Well, that and the far more serious offense of GWR – Governing While Republican. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker committed the same “crime.”

First, some background. In 2013, Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated – her blood alcohol level was 0.239, or nearly three times the legal limit. The videos of the Democrat DA’s arrest and booking are something to behold. She was belligerent, threatening and had to be restrained. She served half of a 45-day jail sentence. The whole episode might just lead one to conclude she’s not fit for her office.

Indeed, noting that Lehmberg heads the Public Integrity Unit, Perry insisted she resign. Being a Democrat of clearly little integrity, however, Lehmberg refused. So when a bill granting appropriations to her office came for his signature, Perry vetoed it, saying he wouldn’t fund the office until she was no longer in charge.

Special prosecutor Michael McCrum indicted Perry for two class A misdemeanors: abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant. McCrum says Perry “coerced” a public official by calling for Lehmberg’s resignation for bad behavior and threatening the veto, as well as abusing his power with the veto. The Leftmedia are gleefully reporting the indictment and its potential impact on Perry’s presidential aspirations, leaving the questions of its dubious merit for later.

Perry quickly parried the attack, saying, “I will explore every legal avenue to expedite this matter and bring it to a swift conclusion. I am confident … this farce of a prosecution will be revealed for what it is.”

He later added, “I stood up for the Rule of Law in the state of Texas, and if I had to do it again I would make exactly the same decision. … This is not the way that we settle … political differences in this country. You don’t do it with indictments. We settle our political differences at the ballot box.”

Perry has plenty of folks on his side, including, believe it or not, some national Democrats. For example, no less than former Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod defended Perry, saying the “indictment seems pretty sketchy.”

Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, who describes himself as a “liberal Democrat who would never vote for Rick Perry,” called the indictment “outrageous.” He added, “Everybody, liberal or conservative, should stand against this indictment.”

George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley likewise called the indictment “very troubling on a separation of powers basis.” In fact, he said, “There are significant constitutional concerns raised by this type of indictment.”

Furthermore, leftist writer Jonathan Chait called the indictment “unbelievably ridiculous.” Not only that, he said, but “[t]o describe the indictment as ‘frivolous’ gives it far more credence than it deserves.”

Yet while it doesn’t seem the Travis County prosecutors have public opinion on their side, this could still cause serious problems for Perry. Fighting the indictment will cost the state money and likely Perry as well, at least in terms of possible campaign fundraising. We think he will be vindicated because he did nothing but exercise his constitutional right of free political speech and his duty as governor. But his victory won’t come without time and money spent on a pathetic and petty distraction, all under the headlines “Governor Indicted.”

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