AUSTIN, Texas – Rick Perry, the governor of Texas and a potential 2016 presidential candidate, has been indicted on felony abuse-of-power charges.
The indictment stems from his threat in 2013 to veto state funding for a statewide public-integrity unit run by Rosemary Lehmberg, district attorney of Democrat-heavy Travis County – whose seat is Austin, the state capital – unless she resigned after being arrested on a drunken-driving charge.
The Republican governor followed through on his veto threat, while Lehmberg, whose office investigates corruption allegations involving local, state and federal officials, refused to step down.
At the time the scandal broke, Lehmberg’s unit was probing alleged misuse of funds at the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, a state agency created by Perry.
Responding to the indictment handed down Friday by grand jurors in Travis County, Perry’s legal team says the governor used the power afforded to him under the state’s constitution in vetoing the funding.
The Texas governor ran for president in 2012 but lost out in the primaries to eventual Republican nominee Mitt Romney, whom Barack Obama subsequently defeated in the national election.
Perry is the first Texas governor to be indicted since James E. Ferguson, who resigned after being charged in 1917 with embezzlement and other criminal counts.