Posted: Saturday, August 16th 2014 at 8:44am
Tex. governor indicted on abuse of power charges
By The Associated Press
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- A grand jury has indicted Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry on two felony counts of abuse of power for making good on a veto threat - a case the possible 2016 presidential hopeful is dismissing as nakedly political, but which his opponents say is just deserts.
The indictments for abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant came late Friday, after a special prosecutor spent months calling witnesses and presenting evidence that Perry broke the law when he carried out a promise to nix $7.5 million over two years for the public integrity unit run by the office of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg. The Democratic official was convicted of drunken driving, but refused Perry's repeated calls to resign.
The case means the longest-serving governor in state history also became the first Texas governor since 1917 to be indicted. Abuse of official capacity is a first-degree felony with potential punishments of five to 99 years in prison. Coercion of a public servant is a third-degree felony that carries a punishment of two to 10 years.
Though the charges are serious, politics are sure to dominate the case. Lehmberg is based in Austin, which is where the grand jury was seated and is heavily Democratic. That's in stark contrast to much of the rest of Texas, which is fiercely conservative - so much so that a Democrat hasn't captured statewide office in 20 years.
Still, while Perry says he did nothing wrong in issuing the veto, simply having the word "indictment" associated with him could tarnish his image and complicate his prospects with 2016 GOP primary voters - should he try again for the White House.
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