Austin, TX, United States (4E) – Texas Gov. Rick Perry and his lawyer on Sunday defended the former’s action to veto funding for an ethics agency that led to his indictment for allegedly abusing his power.
Perry told “Fox News Sunday” he would take the same action if he has to, the same position he said in a press conference on Saturday to defend his veto on the funding for the state Public Integrity Unit (PIU) when its head, Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, refused to resign following her drunk driving arrest and detention last year.
Perry’s attorney, David L. Botsford, said the indictment violated the separation of powers and “sets a dangerous precedent.
“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,” said Botsford. “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.”
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst also expressed disappointment over the indictment of Perry saying Travis County is tryingto criminalize state politics.
Perry’s general counsel, Mary Anne Wiley, said the veto authority is afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution.
A grand jury also indicted Perry on Friday evening for alleged coercion of a public servant.
After her arrest in April 2013. Lehmberg pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 45 days in jail for driving while intoxicated. She served 21 days. Perry demanded her resignation or else he would veto the two-year $7.5-million funding for the PIU. When Lehmberg refused to resign following her conviction, Perry vetoed the funding.
The veto amounted to a misuse of state money earmarked by the Legislature, according to Special prosecutor in the case, Michael McCrum.