On Friday, a grand jury indicted Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) for allegedly abusing the powers of his office by carrying out a threat to veto funding for state prosecutors investigating public corruption.
The indictment stems from an investigation into whether Perry broke the law when he publicly vowed to nix $7.5 million over two years for the public integrity unit, which is run by Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg’s (D) office.
As TheBlaze reports, no one disputes Perry’s authority to veto measures approved by the Legislature. The left-leaning Texans for Public Justice government watchdog group, however, filed an ethics complaint accusing Perry of coercion because he threatened to use his veto prior to taking action in an attempt to pressure Lehmberg to quit. This so-called pressure followed Lehmberg’s April 2013 guilty plea to drunk driving charges.
While the indictment could hamper Perry’s 2016 presidential efforts, some unlikely supporters have come to his defense. From former Obama campaign advisor David Axelrod to liberal law Professor Alan Dershowitz, many on the right and left are questioning the grand jury’s decision.
“Big story nationally, probably shouldn’t be, is that Rick Perry’s been indicted,” Pat said on radio this morning. “Not even liberal Democrats are saying this one should have happened.”
On Saturday, Axelrod had this to say about the indictment:
Unless he was demonstrably trying to scrap the ethics unit for other than his stated reason, Perry indictment seems pretty sketchy.
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) August 16, 2014
That’s a little honesty from David Axelrod,” Pat said. “I didn’t think he had it in him.”
New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chiat seconded Axelrod’s notion, calling the charges “weak”:
I read the indictment of Rick Perry. It isn't just weak — it's outrageously unfair http://t.co/PkJZulz4Rg
— Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) August 16, 2014
For his part, Dershowitz, a Harvard Law professor and self-described “liberal Democrat who would never vote for Rick Perry,” is “outraged” over the “dangerous” indictment.
“Everybody, liberal or conservative, should stand against this indictment. If you don’t like how Rick Perry uses his office, don’t vote for him,” Dershowitz said. “This is another example of the criminalization of party differences… This idea of an indictment is an extremely dangerous trend in America.”
During an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Perry touted the support he received from these sources to dismiss the charges.
“David Axelrod said that this was a very sketchy indictment,” Perry said. “Professor Dershowitz, who’s not exactly my cheerleader, said that it was outrageous. So across the board you’re seeing people weigh in, reflecting that this is way outside of the norm… When you’ve got David Axelrod and Harvard law professor Dershowitz saying the things as they’ve said, I think it’s pretty reflective of what we’re working with here.”
Front page image courtesy of the AP