Although some Democratsare calling forTexas. Gov Rick Perry’s (R) resignation after he wasindicted by a grand juryon Friday, a number of left-leaning observers immediately panned the allegations as unimpressive.
Perry, an expected presidential candidate in 2016, is accused of “abuse of official capacity” and “coercion of [a] public servant” by publicly threatening to zero out a state prosecutor’s funding and then actually doing it. Several pundits, including former Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod, Clinton and Obama administration alum Jonathan Prince, Vox’s Matt Yglesias, and New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait, wrote on Twitter they couldn’t see what the big deal was.
“Unless he was demonstrably trying to scrap the ethics unit for other than his stated reason,” Axelrod argued, “Perry indictment seems pretty sketchy.”
“Have to say Perry indictment seems nuts. Gov has constitutional power to veto. Gov uses power. Grand jury indicts bc they don’t like reason?” Prince asked.
“My *very* preliminary reaction to the Rick Perry news: I don’t understand what law he broke,” Chait opined.
ThinkProgress, the liberal-oriented news site, reported that Perry’s own attorneys “may have a point” when they argued his veto of the prosecutor funding “was made in accordance with the veto authority afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution.”
“The Texas Constitution gives the governor discretion to decide when to sign and when to veto a bill, as well as discretion to veto individual line-items in an appropriation bill. Though the state legislature probably could limit this veto power in extreme cases — if a state governor literally sold his veto to wealthy interest groups, for example, the legislature could almost certainly make that a crime — a law that cuts too deep into the governor’s veto power raises serious separation of powers concerns,” ThinkProgress wrote. “Such laws would rework the balance of power between the executive and the legislature established by the state constitution, and they would almost certainly be unconstitutional.”
The Lawyers, Guns & Money blog appeared to agree.
“I’m as contemptuous of Perry as anyone, but this seems really thin,” the site said in a post reacting to the indictment. “To the extent that the statute reaches Perry’s behaviour, itself kind of a stretch, it’s hard to see how the statute is consistent with the separation of powers established by the state constitution.”
But not all Perry critics were sceptical of the indictment against the Republican governor. Indeed, some of the leading voices in Texas Democratic politics called for his resignation, according to KXAN News.
“We call on Governor Perry to immediately step down from office,” Gilberto Hinojosa, president of the Texas Democratic Party, said. “Texans deserve real leadership and this is unbecoming of our governor.”
Perry’s supporters, meanwhile, have accused the special prosecutor in question of partisanship. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called the indictment “highly suspect” in a Facebook post Saturday.
“Unfortunately, there has been a sad history of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office engaging in politically-motivated prosecutions, and this latest indictment of the governor is extremely questionable. Rick Perry is a friend, he’s a man of integrity — I am proud to stand with Rick Perry,” Cruz wrote.
According to the Texas Observer, the charges stem from a “a long-running power struggle involving Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg.” In 2013, Lehmberg, a Democrat, was convicted of drunk driving
. Perry’s office then moved to muscle her out by cutting her funding.
Perry’s attorney is set to meet with the special prosecutor, Michael McCrum, on Monday to discuss the two felony indictments, the Associated Press reported. McCrum said he didn’t know when Perry will be booked.
McCrum also said he “took into account the fact that we’re talking about a governor of a state — and a governor of the state of Texas, which we all love.”
Updated (10:05 a.m.): With additional content throughout.
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