Rick Perry’s mugshot. Photo Travis County Sheriff’s Office
There’s a lot of entertaining politicians occupying the right side of the political spectrum. And, quite a few of them come from one of our favorite states to write about; the great state of Texas. They run the gamut from crazy (Louie Gohmert) to obnoxious (Steve Stockman) to out and out frightening (Ted Cruz. Don’t ever write Ted Cruz off as just another crazy fool; he knows exactly what he’s doing).
Somewhere in the middle on the crazy to psychotic scale is one of our favorites – James Richard “Rick” Perry, occasional presidential candidate and governor of Texas for the last sixteen years. Famous for not remembering which three federal agencies he wanted to eliminate during the 2012 GOP presidential debates, for bringing fellow lawmakers, friends and supporters to a really offensively named hunting camp and for executing over 250 people since he became governor, among other things. Rick has a natural talent for making the news, and usually not in a good way.
Last week on Friday, Rick was indicted by a Travis County grand jury on felony charges of abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant. The charges stem from the arrest of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg on DWI charges. Lehmberg, as part of her role as Travis County District Attorney was also the head of the Public Integrity Unit, which investigates and prosecutes public corruption and malfeasance. Perry called for her to resign, or else he would veto funding for the Unit. She didn’t resign, and he vetoed the funding. Now, as Texas allows line item vetoes by the governor, this should be fine, right? Not quite…
You see, the Public Integrity Unit was investigating Rick Perry himself at the time; namely one of his pet projects – the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. And, if Lehmberg resigned, Perry would appoint a replacement. This would in all likelihood kill any investigation dealing with Perry. Travis County is a liberal island in red Texas, and Lehmberg was a Democrat- Perry would more than likely appoint a Republican.
Perry said he’d fight the case of course. On Tuesday, he appeared in an Austin courthouse to be booked and fingerprinted. On Wednesday, the Dallas Morning News ran a story naming two other cases where DAs were arrested for DWIs and Perry didn’t demand their resignations; in fact, he said nothing. And according to Progress Texas, there’s a third case; a former congressman who’s now chief legal council for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
What do these three have in common – that is, besides not incurring Perry’s wrath over their breach oi public trust? They’re all Republicans, and they aren’t investigating Rick Perry. I think I see a pattern here…
Then, on Thursday, a Perry spokesman said in an email that Perry would be using campaign funds to pay his defense lawyers. While I haven’t found anything yet in Texas law prohibiting this, I’m fairly sure that it’s illegal under federal law – which could make his preparing for a presidential run even more interesting. We’ve never had a candidate for president arrested during a debate before; it would make for great television.