In 2014, Texas Gov. Rick Perry was indicted on two felony counts of allegations of abuse of power by local Democrats. In 2013, he allegedly pressured the district attorney, a Democrat, to step down by threatening to cut off state financing to her office, the NY Times reported.
It was a First Amendment case that had to fall on Mr. Perry’s side. However, for Democrats, it was probably an essential dry run. They got away with it and destroyed Perry as a candidate.
The Times wrote:
“The indictment left Mr. Perry, a Republican, the first Texas governor in nearly 100 years to face criminal charges and presented a major roadblock to his presidential ambitions at the very time that he had been showing signs of making a comeback.”
Now, Donald Trump is the first president.
The Federalist reports the “first charge was an abuse of official capacity. The second was the coercion of a public servant. Perry’s crime was using the veto power granted to him in the Texas Constitution.” He did nothing wrong.
The Federalist describes what happened:
What happened was this: Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat, was convicted of drunk driving and incarcerated. Working from the Travis County DA’s office, Lehmberg managed the state public integrity unit, a legal office responsible for rooting out public corruption. After she refused to resign her position following a fair bit of criticism over the fact that a person in charge of rooting out public corruption should not be known for being convicted of a crime, Perry threatened to veto the public integrity unit’s $7.5 million budget and eventually did veto the budget.
The abuse of office charge led to his indictment and arrest. They booked him, took his mug shot, and fingerprinted him. He faced five to 99 years in prison.
It derailed his presidential hopes.
Mr. Perry was cleared of all charges in February 2016. By then, too much attention had focused on him to continue a successful presidential run. He dropped out in September.
“I think anyone who has paid attention to presidential races, saw this indictment had a negative effect on our candidacy,” Perry said at that time.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed charges against Rick Perry. The previous July, a lower court dismissed one of the charges.
The Appeals court looked at the state’s separation-of-power provision in the Texas Constitution. They also considered a governor’s veto power under the “abuse of official capacity” statute. The First Amendment prevailed.
“I think the people of this state do not want rogue prosecutors to use the court to get done what they can’t get done at the ballot box,” he said about the political nature of the charges.
The dismissal by the Appeals Court proved Mr. Perry was correct. “Public servants have a First Amendment right to engage in expression, even threats, regarding their official duties.”