Sounds pretty ominous, right? Five to ninety-nine years. The problem is that Perry didn't do anything that other governors, and even the President of the United States haven't done. The reason this has gotten to this level is simple - Democrat partisanship.
The head of the Public Integrity Unit is Travis County Democratic District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg. In April of last year, Ms. Lehmberg was arrested and pleaded guilty to drunken driving charges. Reports say her blood alcohol was three times the legal limit. A video from the jail shows Lehmberg screaming at deputies to "Call the Sheriff" and kicking the cell door. She was sentenced to 45 days in jail, of which she did about half.
Governor Perry believes Ms. Lehmberg should resign from her position as head of the Public Integrity Unit because of her DHI conviction. That seems like a reasonable request given the nature of the unit. But Ms. Lehmberg refuses to do so.
Governor Perry announced that he would veto a bill that funds that office unless Ms. Lehmberg resigns from it. Democrats in the state filed an ethics complaint against Perry and a special prosecutor was called in to investigate it. This prosecutor just happens to be from San Antonio, the most liberal city in Texas. The prosecutor called witnesses and got their statements but never once spoke to Perry himself. When asked why the governor wasn't called he said "That's prosecutorial discretion that I had."
A separate grand jury investigated Lehmberg for official misconduct and decided she should not be removed from her position for the DUI. And I agree that it wasn't "official misconduct." However, common sense would dictate that a felony DUI conviction of the head of the Public Integrity Unit should be grounds for resignation from that unit. What about the "integrity" of the office?
The Texas Democrat Party released the following statement concerning the indictment: "Governor Rick Perry has brought dishonor to his office, his family and the state of Texas. Texans deserve to have leaders that stand up for what is right and work to help families across Texas."
Apparently in the eyes of Texas Democrats it's OK to be the head of the Public Integrity Unit and get convicted of DUI but it's not OK for the governor to veto a bill that funds the office where she works. That's liberal logic for you.
David L. Botsford, counsel for Gov. Perry, issued the following statement
"I am outraged and appalled that the Grand Jury has taken this action, given the governor's constitutional right and duty to veto funding as he deems appropriate. This clearly represents political abuse of the court system and there is no legal basis in this decision. The facts of this case conclude that the governor's veto was lawful, appropriate and well within the authority of the office of the governor. Today's action, which violates the separation of powers outlined in the Texas Constitution, is nothing more than an effort to weaken the constitutional authority granted to the office of Texas governor, and sets a dangerous precedent by allowing a grand jury to punish the exercise of a lawful and constitutional authority afforded to the Texas governor."
I must agree with Mr. Botsford.
Given that Perry is planning to step down from the governorship at the end of his current term, not seeking re-election in November, it seems like overkill to push for indictment.
I can't help but wonder if there are some Texas Democrat strings being pulled from Washington. After all - Perry has blasted President Obama for his inaction on illegal immigration and the disaster at the border and Perry is now sending Texas National Guard troops to the Southern border to help stop the steady flow of illegals into Texas. He's making Obama look pretty pathetic when it comes to the border crisis. Perry is also considering another Presidential run and his strong stance on illegal immigration is boosting his standings with Republicans nationwide.
Would Democrats in Washington quietly involve themselves in Republican election affairs? I don't know - maybe we should ask the IRS...