Texas Governor and former GOP presidential nominee Rick Perry has been indicted by a grand jury on two felony offenses for allegedly abusing his authority.
Perry is accused of attempting to coerce Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg into resigning, vetoing $7.5 million in funding for her office if she didn't. (Video via KDFW)
The story starts in April 2013, when Lehmberg was arrested for driving drunk. She served a 45-day sentence, but refused to resign despite public pressure from the governor and is still in office today. (Video via Austin American-Stateman)
Prosecutors say Perry tried to force the issue by threatening to defund the Public Integrity Unit, which Lehmberg heads, unless she stepped down. Perry allegedly made good on his threats when he vetoed the agency's state funding at the end of last year's legislative session. (Video via KXAN)
Now, Perry did have the right to veto the PIU's funds under the Texas Constitution, something the governor's office pointed out after the charges were made public. But the governor's critics say the case is more about Perry's alleged threats to Lehmberg rather than the veto.
"It was clear in our mind that Governor Perry had crossed the line and broke the law. And we're glad a grand jury agreed with that today."
Interestingly, this whole case revolves around the one agency that's been a thorn in the side of the Texas GOP for years. In 2005, a former Travis County DA spearheaded a campaign finance investigation which eventually forced former House Majority leader Tom DeLay from office.
And Perry vetoed the PIU's funding just as they were beginning an investigation into the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas, an organization accused of providing millions of dollars in questionable grants to some Perry allies.
As a writer for The Texas Observer pointed out back in April, "Gov. Perry has been in office for 14 years—every nook and cranny of state government is filled with his appointees. The Public Integrity Unit is the rare piece that he doesn’t control. ... So naturally, for years, Republicans in the state have tried to strip that power from the Travis County DA."
Perry is currently facing one count of abuse of official capacity and one count of coercion of a public servant; together, those charges have a maximum sentence of 109 years behind bars. His attorneys are set to meet with investigator Michael McCrum on Monday.
This video includes images from Getty Images.