The highest criminal court in the Lone Star State has dismissed the second and final felony charge against former Texas Governor Rick Perry.
The criminal indictments against Perry arose from his threat to exercise a veto and his ultimate exercise of that veto.
In August 2014, a grand jury indicted then-Texas Governor Perry for abusing the powers of his office by carrying out a threat to veto $7.5 million in funding for the Travis County District Attorney’s public integrity unit.
Perry got crossways with District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg when he told her to resign. The DA had been arrested and plead guilty to drunken driving in 2013. As reported by Breitbart Texas, an unflattering video recording of Lehmberg showed her kicking at her cell door and yelling at staffers. She was also seen sticking her tongue out, and was eventually subdued with face, arm, and leg restraints. Her blood alcohol level was 0.239, almost three times the legal limit. Lehmberg served time in jail but stayed in office.
Perry carried out his veto threat in July 2013 when Lehmberg did not resign.
Perry called his indictments an outrageous abuse of power. The public integrity unit in Travis County has been accused in the past of using their power against political opponents, including Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. DeLay has called the indictments in the Texas county “The Criminalization of Politics.”
As reported by Breitbart Texas in July 2015, an intermediate appellate court in Austin, Texas, dismissed one of the charges against the former governor. The charge of coercion of a public servant was dismissed. The second indictment was left pending but Breitbart Texas reported at that time that it may be dismissed in the future.
The intermediate court of appeals held last July, “As to this ruling we respectfully disagree with the district court — the statute on which the ‘coercion of a public servant’ is based, as written, and as we are bound to construe it, violates the First Amendment and, accordingly, cannot be enforced.” The appellate court left the second charge, abuse of official capacity pending.
Maximum punishment on the charge of abuse of power is five to 99 years in prison. The coercion charge carries a possible sentence of two to 10 years.
Perry has had to pay millions to defend against criminal claims that many see as political payback. It is likely the indictments impacted his short bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
After his indictments came down from a Travis County grand jury in August 2014, Breitbart Texas wrote that the Governor had not committed a crime under Texas law.
After Perry’s indictments, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Ted Cruz and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, denounced them as politically motivated and without legal basis, as reported by Breitbart Texas. Senator Cruz called the indictments “frivolous” and Governor Abbott called them “outrageous and inappropriate.” Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said at the time that he was “extremely disappointed” that the case against Perry was allowed to move forward, and declared that he believed Perry “was within his constitutional authority to make the statement he made and to veto the funding” for the public integrity unit.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has remanded the case to the Travis County district court to dismiss the indictment.
Governor Rick Perry was the 47th Governor of Texas and is the longest serving governor in the Lone Star State’s history.
This article has been updated.
Lana Shadwick is a writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and an associate judge in Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2