News

Texas Gov. Perry calls indictment politically motivated

Texas Gov. Perry calls indictment politically motivated

GOV. RICK PERRY: Perry was indicted on Friday by a grand jury in Travis County, a Democratic stronghold in the heavily Republican state, on two counts of abuse of power and coercion over a funding veto he made last year that was seen as being intended to force a local prosecutor to resign. Photo: Reuters

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN Texas (Reuters) – Texas Governor Rick Perry, a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2016, said on Saturday an indictment against him for abuse of power was a political move that he intends to fight.

Perry was indicted on Friday by a grand jury in Travis County, a Democratic stronghold in the heavily Republican state, on two counts of abuse of power and coercion over a funding veto he made last year that was seen as being intended to force a local prosecutor to resign.

“This indictment amounts to nothing more than an abuse of power and I cannot and I will not allow that to happen,” Perry told reporters in Austin, Texas. He added he stood by the veto that led to charges being laid against him.

A probe was launched last year after Perry vetoed $7.5 million in funding for an integrity unit that is part of the Travis County district attorney’s office.

The veto was seen as hardball politics to force out county District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat, after she pleaded guilty to drunken driving and remained in office.

If convicted of the first-degree felony, Perry could be sentenced to between five and 99 years in jail while a conviction on the other charge can bring between two and 10 years in jail, a prosecutor said.

Perry is expected to survive the court battle but the trial could drag on for months, casting a shadow over his campaign and scaring away major donations, said Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston.

In the short run, Perry could use the legal battle to win support during Republican primaries by portraying himself as a staunch conservative being targeted in a politically motivated prosecution launched by Democrats, Jones said.

“This comes as Perry was gaining traction due to the immigration issue that saw him rise from an also-ran to a third-tier candidate in the Republican presidential race,” Jones said.

Republicans have long charged that they have been targeted by the Public Integrity Unit, run out of the Travis County prosecutor’s office. The unit has investigated prominent Republicans including former U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

After flaming out in the 2012 presidential race, Perry had been mounting a political comeback that gained him national attention for attacking President Barack Obama by saying he had not done enough to secure the border with Mexico.

Perry, the longest-serving governor in the state’s history and the first indicted in the state in about a century, was forced to exit the 2012 presidential race after gaffes including when he lost his train of thought during a debate and could not recall which government departments he wanted to abolish.

He is not seeking re-election as governor and will step down next year.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Recent Headlines

in Entertainment

This weekend in entertainment history

rainman

A look back on some of Hollywood's most memorable headlines.

in National

Amanda Knox murder conviction overturned

FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2014, file photo, Amanda Knox prepares to leave the set following a television interview in New York. Knox is engaged to Colin Sutherland, a musician who recently moved to Seattle from New York, a person close to the Knox family confirmed for The Associated Press. Knox’s murder conviction in the 2007 stabbing of her roommate has been reinstated by an Italian court, but the former college exchange student maintains her innocence and vows she won’t willingly go back to Italy. Both Knox and Sutherland are 27. No wedding date had been set.

Italy's highest court has overturned the murder conviction against Amanda Knox, bringing to a definitive end the high-profile case.

in National

Time for Iran to make tough decisions in nuclear talks

In this March 26, 2015, photo, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, center, leaves a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other U.S. officials at a hotel in Lausanne, Switzerland. U.S. and Iranian diplomats gather at a Baroque palace in Europe, a historic nuclear agreement within reach. Over Iraq’s deserts, their militaries fight a common foe. Leaders in Washington and Tehran, capitals once a million miles from each other in ideological terms, wrestle for the first time in decades with the notion of a rapprochement.

Six world powers and Iran move closer to a deal, but there are still major disagreements.