Prosecutorial abuse for partisan purposes is common these days, and the latest display is taking place in the all-too-familiar venue of Austin, Texas. On Friday a Travis County prosecutor indicted Governor Rick Perry for the high crime of exercising his constitutional right to free speech and his legal power to veto legislation.
Lest you think we oversimplify, read the two-count indictment. It's all of two pages. It charges Mr. Perry with abusing his office by "threatening to veto legislation that had been approved and authorized by the Legislature of the State of Texas to provide funding for the continued operation of the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney's office unless Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg resigned from her official position as elected District Attorney."
AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry today made the following statement regarding the decision by the Travis County Grand Jury:
“As governor, I took an oath to faithfully uphold the constitution of Texas, a pledge that I have kept every day as I've worked on behalf of Texans for the last 14 years. This same constitution clearly outlines the authority of any governor to veto items at his or her discretion. Just as I have following every legislative session during my service as governor, I exercised this authority to veto funding for an office whose leadership had lost the public's confidence by acting inappropriately and unethically.
“I wholeheartedly and unequivocally stand behind my veto, and will continue to defend this lawful action of my executive authority as governor. We don't settle political differences with indictments in this country. It is outrageous that some would use partisan political theatrics to rip away at the very fabric of our state's constitution.
“This indictment amounts to nothing more than an abuse of power and I cannot, and will not, allow that to happen. I intend to fight against those who would erode our state's constitution and laws purely for political purposes, and I intend to win. I will explore every legal avenue to expedite this matter and bring it to a swift conclusion. I am confident we will ultimately prevail, that this farce of a prosecution will be revealed for what it is, and that those responsible will be held to account.”
The facts are clear. Governors have the right to exercise veto authority, and my friend Rick Perry exercised his constitutional authority and stood up for responsible government when he vetoed funding for a Texas agency run by someone who pled guilty to DWI and served 45 days in jail. One only needs to see a few highlights from the video of District Attorney Lehmberg’s arrest – during which she spits at law enforcement and is restrained to see why she wasn't fit for her job as head of the Public Integrity Unit!