Texas governor Rick Perry has been indicted by a grand jury for the felony charges of coercion of a public servant and abuse of his official capacity. I’m sure there have been other indictments in American history just as silly as this one, but this has to rank in the upper echelons of stupidity.
First, the facts. Who is this public servant who was allegedly coerced? Her name is Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat district attorney who heads a public integrity unit in Travis County. She was arrested for drunk driving in 2013 with a blood alcohol level three times the amount required for intoxication. Feel free to browse the internet for video of her behavior during her arrest. I don’t feel the necessity to hold her up to ridicule; she has accomplished that all by herself.
Perry demanded she step down from her position. She refused. He then said he would veto funds for her agency. He followed through on that veto. Governors can certainly state their preference for public officials to resign, and he used his constitutional mandate to veto legislation. No matter if one agrees with the veto or not, how is this an abuse of power?
All that was necessary was to get a prosecutor of the opposite political persuasion of Perry’s to assemble a grand jury in Austin—which is a notoriously liberal city—to find Perry culpable. The old cliché about how grand juries would indict a ham sandwich might apply here. In other words, rarely will a grand jury decline to indict.
This appears to be a political indictment dressed up in constitutional clothes. It’s payback for Ms. Lehmberg and another opportunity for the prosecutor to get a Republican:
It’s instructive to note that many liberal commentators who have no love for Perry or conservatism in general are saying this is pretty thin as an indictment. Most seem rather embarrassed by it. Even the vaunted New York Times, which rarely finds anything good to print about conservatives, has pretty much dismissed this indictment as phony. Maybe the prosecutor needed to be more imaginative:
At any rate, when Gov. Perry showed up for his “mug shot,” he used the occasion to give a strong message to his followers that he was going to fight this and win. That official mug shot doesn’t show a very worried Perry. Most people indicted for a felony don’t feel like smiling at this point. After it was over, Perry went out for an ice cream.
I think this indictment is politics run wild. Chances are it will get laughed off the front pages over time. It may never see the drama of a courtroom. Overall, it’s pretty ridiculous. But it is an indication to what lengths some Democrats will go to undermine Republicans.