Texas Governor Rick Perry has been booked at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center in Austin, for two felony indictments of abuse of power on August 19.
Rick Perry told dozens of cheering supporters outside the Texas courthouse that he would “fight this injustice with every fiber of my being”.
Showing no hint of worry on his face, Rick Perry flashed a thin, confident grin beneath perfect hair in his mug shot. He then headed to a nearby Austin eatery for ice cream, even gleefully documenting his excursion via Twitter.
The Republican, who is mulling a second presidential run in 2016, was indicted after carrying out a threat to veto funding for state public corruption prosecutors. He has dismissed the case a political ploy, and supporters chanting his last name and holding signs greeted him upon arriving at a Travis County Courthouse in Austin.
“I’m going to fight this injustice with every fiber of my being. And we will prevail,” Rick Perry said before walking inside the building, where he set off a metal detector but didn’t break stride, heading straight to a first-floor office to have his fingerprints taken and stand for the mug shot. In it he’s wearing a blue tie but shed the glasses that have become something of his trademark in recent months.
The longest-serving governor in Texas history was indicted last week for coercion and official oppression for publicly promising to veto $7.5 million for the state public integrity unit, which investigates wrongdoing by elected officials and is run by the Travis County district attorney’s office. Rick Perry threatened the veto if the county’s Democratic district attorney, Rosemary Lehmberg, stayed in office after a drunken driving conviction.
Rosemary Lehmberg refused to resign and Rick Perry carried out the veto, drawing an ethics complaint from a left-leaning government watchdog group.
Rick Perry was indicted by a grand jury in Austin, a liberal bastion in otherwise mostly fiercely conservative Texas.
“I’m going to enter this courthouse with my head held high knowing the actions I took were not only lawful and legal, but right,” Rick Perry told supporters before heading inside the building located just steps from the governor’s mansion.
In less than 10 minutes, Rick Perry was outside again, telling those assembled that he was confident in the rule of law.
“We don’t resolve political disputes or policy differences by indictments,” he said.
“We don’t criminalize policy disagreements. We will prevail. We will prevail.”
If convicted on both counts, Rick Perry could face a maximum 109 years in prison – though legal experts across the political spectrum have said the case against him may be a tough sell to a jury. No one disputes that Rick Perry has the right to veto any measures passed by the state Legislature, including any parts of the state budget.
However, the complaint against Rick Perry alleges that by publicly threatening a veto and trying to force Rosemary Lehmberg to resign, he coerced her. The Republican judge assigned to the case has assigned a San Antonio-based special prosecutor who insists the case is stronger than it may outwardly appear.
Rick Perry has hired a team of high-powered attorneys, who are being paid with state funds to defend him.
Top Republicans have been especially quick to defend the governor, though, since a jail video following Rosemary Lehmberg’s April 2013 arrest showed the district attorney badly slurring her words, shouting at staffers to call the sheriff, kicking the door of her cell, and sticking her tongue out. Rosemary Lehmberg’s blood alcohol level was also three times the legal limit for driving.
Rick Perry is the first Texas governor to be indicted since 1917.
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