Politics Magazine

Who Is Playing Politics With Texas Law ?

Posted on the 22 August 2014 by Jobsanger
Who Is Playing Politics With Texas Law ? The picture at left is the "mug shot" of Texas Governor Rick Perry, taken after he was indicted for two criminal felonies -- Abuse of Power and Coercion of a Public Servant (both felonies under Texas law). Perry and his cohorts in the Republican Party are now loudly proclaiming that the indictment was just a political ploy -- engineered by Democrats to smear the governor (and possibility prevent his run for president in 2016). Democrats deny this, and say Perry created his own problems when he broke the law.
Who is right? Is someone using the laws of the state of Texas to play political games? Let us look at the facts of this case.
This whole mess started with the arrest of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). This was a stupid thing for her to do, and no one has defended her actions (not even Democrats). She was convicted of the offense, and served 45 days in jail (and entered a treatment program) -- and the voters will have the final say on her future.
But that wasn't good enough for the governor. He demanded that she resign her office because he said she had "lost the public's confidence by acting inappropriately and unethically". Lehmberg ignored the governor's demand and did not resign. Perry then threatened to cut off funding for the Travis County's Public Integrity Unit (TCPIU) if she did not resign. The TCPIU has the responsibility to investigate wrongdoing by state officials (being located in the state capitol). Lehmberg still refused to resign, so Perry followed through on his threat and vetoed funding for the TCPIU. The governor's threats and veto are what got him indicted by a Travis County Grand Jury.
Unfortunately for the governor, that is not quite the complete story. The Dallas Morning News, one of the state's most conservative newspapers, is now reporting that Rick Perry seems to be playing favorites when it comes to inappropriate behavior by District Attorneys. During Perry's term as governor, two other District Attorneys were arrested for DWI -- in Swisher County (2002) and in Kaufman County (2009). Perry neither asked for nor demanded the resignation of either of those two District Attorneys.
What is the difference between those two District Attorneys and Lehmberg? There are two differences. First, the Swisher County and Kaufman County District Attorneys are Republicans. Second, the TCPIU was investigating corruption in the governor's office, and if Lehmberg had resigned, Perry could have appointed her replacement (and stopped that investigation).
Rick Perry is right about one thing -- someone is playing politics with Texas law. But it is not the special prosecutor or the grand jury. It is Rick Perry -- and now his Republican cohorts who are trying to defend his criminal actions.
NOTE -- I am under no illusion that Rick Perry will have to pay for his criminal conduct. Even if he is convicted by a jury, I fully expect the Republican-dominated Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to come to his aid. It's just the way politics is played these days in the Lone Star State.

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