Rick Perry was indicted by a grand jury on Friday for abuse of power. He is accused of abusing the powers of his office when he carried out a threat to veto funding for Texas state prosecutors investigating public corruption.
Over the last few months, a special prosecutor has been presenting evidence and calling in witnesses to show that Perry broke the law when he publicly promised to veto $7.5 million for the public integrity unit.
This unit is run by Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, who served a 45 day jail sentence last year for a DUI. Lehmberg was convicted of driving drunk with a BAC that was three times the legal limit, and a jailhouse video showed the attorney getting belligerent with police. Perry called for her to resign, but when she refused he threatened to cut off her funding.
After he carried out his threat, the liberal-leaning Texans for Public Justice group filed an ethics complaint against the governor, accusing him of trying to coerce Lehmberg to quit her job.
According to The Daily Mail, Perry was indicted by an Austin grand jury on two felony counts. If convicted on the first charge, he would face between five and 99 years in prison. The second charge carries a two to 10 year sentence.
Even if he is not convicted, the charges could negatively affect the Governor’s chances for a presidential run in 2016. Despite this, Perry and his aides claim they aren’t worried because he did not break any laws.
Back in April, when the grand jury was first convened, Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed said the Governor had nothing to worry about.
“The veto in question was made in accordance with the veto power afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution, and we remain ready and willing to assist with this inquiry.”