WASHINGTON, D.C. – Texas Governor Rick Perry, a potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, was indicted Friday over an effort to force a local Democratic prosecutor to resign.
A grand jury in Austin indicted Perry on two felony charges — abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant for his threat to veto $7.5 million in state funding to the Public Integrity Unit run by the office of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg.
After Lehmberg was convicted of drunken driving, Perry said he would withhold the funding if she did not step down.
When Lehmberg refused to leave her office, Perry carried out his veto.
“Despite the otherwise good work the Public Integrity Unit’s employees, I cannot in good conscience support continued state funding for an office with statewide jurisdiction at a time when the person charged with ultimate responsibility of that unit has lost the public’s confidence,” Perry said in a statement accompanying his June 2013 veto. “This unit is in no other way held accountable to state taxpayers, except through the state budgetary process. I therefore object to and disapprove of this appropriation.”
The Texans for Public Justice watchdog group, which filed a complaint in the case, said “the grand jury decided Perry’s bullying crossed the line into law breaking.”
“Any gov under felony indictment should consider stepping aside,” it added in a tweet.