Why These Liberals Think Rick Perry's Indictment Is a Joke

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By Samuel Smith , CP Contributor
August 19, 2014|11:49 am
rick perry (PHoto: Reuters/Mike Theiler)

Texas Gov. Rick Perry greets guests as he arrives at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) opens in Oxon Hill, Maryland, March 7, 2014. Thousands of conservative activists, Republicans and Tea Party Patriots gather to hear politicians, presidential hopefuls, and business leaders speak, lobby and network for a conservative agenda, looking to Congressional gains in 2014 and a Republican president in 2016.

In the wake of Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry's two-count indictment by an Austin grand jury last Friday charging him with abusing the powers of his office to attempt to oust a Democrat district attorney that he deemed to have "lost the public's confidence", many key liberal voices have called the grounds for the indictment "sketchy".

With Perry being a 2016 Republican presidential hopeful, the indictment might be considered a ploy by Texas liberals to destroy the credibility of yet another prominent Texas republican.

One of the most prominent Democrats that have taken to Twitter to voice their opinion against the indictment is former Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod.

"Unless he was demonstrably trying to scrap the ethics unit for other than his stated reason, Perry indictment seems pretty sketchy," Axelrod tweeted.

Perry faces up to 99 years of imprisonment if he is convicted of illegally using his gubernatorial line-item veto to nix the $7.5 million funding over two years for the state's public integrity unit if Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, who oversaw the unit, did not resign. Lehmberg pleaded guilty to a DUI in April 2013. Her blood alcohol content was three times the legal limit and had an open bottle of vodka in her passenger seat when she was pulled over. Additionally, she belligerently treated the criminal process as if she was better than the law, according to critics.

Although it might look bad scrapping a unit that was designed to investigate political corruption because a Democrat district attorney did not resign, Perry is not alone in the thinking that Lehmberg should resign.

"When you look at that and you have to make a decision on whether or not $7.5 million of taxpayer money is going to go to the unit that she oversees. I did what every governor would have done for decades which is make a decision whether it was in proper use of state money to go to that agency," Perry said in an interview with Fox News Sunday. "I vetoed it. That is what the rule of law is really about. I stood up for the rule of law in the state of Texas. If I had to do it again, I would make exact same decision."

Staunch liberal and retired Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz also spoke against the indictment in an interview with Newsmax saying that he was "outraged" by the indictment and that it could lead to a "dangerous" trend of the courts having too much influence in executive politics.

"Everybody, liberal or conservative, should stand against this indictment," Dershowitz said. "If you don't like how Rick Perry uses his office, don't vote for him."

Perry said that he was happy to see support against the indictment coming from political commentators from both parties, but especially liberals such as Axelrod and Dershowitz, whose political opinions are vastly different than Perry's.

"Across the board, you are seeing people weigh in and reflecting that this is way outside of the norm," Perry said. "This is not the way that we settle political differences in this country. You don't do it with indictments. We settle our political differences at the ballot box."

Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress.org, a liberal leaning news site, wrote that the special prosecutors in this indictment will have trouble overcoming Texas' constitutional right that allows the governor veto authority and gives the governor discretion to veto individual line-item in an appropriation bill.

It's not the first time Texas liberals have attempted to eliminate a Republican office holder by way of a grand jury indictment. In 2005, Tom DeLay, who served as the majority leader in the House at the time, resigned after he was found guilty of conspiracy to violate election law. The case was later overturned in the Texas Court of Appeals due to lack of sufficient evidence. In 1993, state treasurer Kay Bailey Hutchison was indicted for official misconduct and records tampering. She was acquitted.

Timothy Noah, a left-of-center writer for MSNBC and formerly of the New Republic, said in a series of tweets that Perry's indictment will end much like the previous indictments of Texas officeholders.

"Tom DeLay, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Rick Perry ... when's last time they prosecuted a prominent Texas Republican and actually made it stick?" Noah tweeted.

 

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