Several prominent Texas elected officials quickly issued statements publicly declaring their support for former Governor Rick Perry and denouncing the case against him as politically motivated, after news broke on Tuesday that Judge Bert Richardson had ruled against Perry’s motion to dismiss the criminal charges against him.
Breitbart Texas previously reported that Perry was indicted last August after he had threatened to veto the funding for the Public Integrity Unit (PIU) of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office after the Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg was arrested for drunk driving and was caught on video being abusive to law enforcement officers. Lehmberg refused to resign, Perry carried out his threat to veto the funding, and he was indicted for abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant.
Perry has steadfastly maintained that his actions were well within the legal authority granted to him as Texas Governor under the Texas Constitution, and the motion to dismiss sought to dismiss the charges against him for that reason. However, Judge Richardson ruled that it was too early in the process to bring up a constitutional challenge and ordered the case to proceed.
After the ruling was released, numerous Texas elected officials sent out statements publicly declaring their support for Perry.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called the case against Perry “frivolous” and criticized the court’s decision. “Rick Perry is a good man, a man of integrity, and a friend,” wrote Cruz. “From the outset, this indictment has been a political witch-hunt. It is not a crime for a governor to exercise his constitutional authority to veto legislation. The indictment is frivolous—and consistent with the Travis County DA Office’s sorry history of politicized prosecutions. The district court’s decision to allow this case to proceed is both unfortunate and wrong, and it profoundly undermines the rule of law.”
Perry’s successor, Governor Greg Abbott, likewise called Perry’s prosecution “outrageous and inappropriate.” Said Abbott, “The Texas Governor is endowed by our Constitution with the authority to veto legislation, and it is outrageous and inappropriate that a Governor would be prosecuted for exercising that authority. The continued legal proceedings against Governor Perry conflict with the authority granted to all Governors by the Texas Constitution, and I trust they will be ultimately resolved in a manner consistent with the Constitution.”
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said that he was “extremely disappointed” that the case against Perry was allowed to move forward, and expressly declared that he believed that Perry “was within his constitutional authority to make the statement he made and to veto the funding” for the PIU. “The decision to indict Governor Perry was wrong and undermines our democratic principles and separation of powers,” said Patrick. “These actions have a chilling effect on the legislative process and on every member of the legislative and executive branch. We have a duty and a right as office holders to question any official funded by taxpayers. We have a responsibility to withhold funding from any official or agency that we deem is not acting in the best interest of the public.”
“Governor Rick Perry has proven himself to be an exceptional and trustworthy leader, and a man I’ve had the honor of knowing for many years,” said Attorney General Ken Paxton. “Throughout his career, he has treated his office with dignity and respect, always with the intent of doing the most good for the people of Texas. The Constitutional veto authority of the governor is an important and necessary tool to balance the powers of state government and must be utilized without undue fear of prosecution.”
Tony Buzbee, Perry’s lead counsel, has vowed to appeal. In a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas, Buzbee said, “Governor Perry acted lawfully and properly exercised his power under the law as Governor to protect the public safety and integrity of government. Continued prosecution of Governor Perry is an outrage and sets a dangerous precedent in our Democracy. America’s commitment to the Constitution and rule of law is at stake in this case, which is why we will immediately appeal this decision to the Third District Court of Appeals.”
RickPAC, Perry’s political action committee, also sent out an email with a message from Perry asking supporters to sign an online petition. “I wholeheartedly stand behind my veto, and appreciate your support during this meritless attack. Today, I ask that you continue your support by signing on to this petition,” wrote Perry. “It is outrageous that some would use partisan political theatrics to rip away at the very fabric of our state’s constitution. I cannot and will not allow that to happen. We will explore every legal avenue to expedite this matter, and I intend to win…I hope you will consider signing on to this petition to send the message that this continued prosecution sets a dangerous precedent in our country.”
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker.