He was charged with coercion of a public servant and abusing his power for threatening to cut off state funding with the use of his veto power to an anticorruption unit if district attorney Rosemary Lehmberg did not step down from her post.
McDonald accused Perry of abusing his power. That the highly unpopular Ted Cruz is the favored local candidate in the Texas leg of the GOP presidential primary, is a telling indictment against Perry – even if that’s the only indictment anyone can get to stick.
Perry dismissed the case as a “political witch hunt”, while legal scholars from across the political spectrum raised objections about it. Still, the Republican judge overseeing the case repeatedly refused to throw it out on constitutional grounds, prompting Perry’s appeals.
Perry became the first Texas governor, or head of state, in nearly 100 years to face criminal charges, The New York Times reports.
Texas’ highest criminal court dismissed an abuse-of-power indictment against the former governor. “They don’t want rogue organizations that use the political process, that use the court system, to do what they can’t get done at the ballot box and I think that’s what we saw here”, Perry said. Decided on a 6-2 basis, the court upheld the plenary authority of a governor in issuing vetoes, as well as the right to challenge prosecution in pre-trial habeas corpus motions when charges violate the separation-of-powers declaration within the Texas state constitution.
Perry, Texas’s longest-serving governor, was indicted in 2014 for allegedly trying to coerce an elected official into quitting and misusing state funds, charges that could’ve kept him in prison for life if he’d been convicted. But his second White House campaign lasted barely three months, and Perry formally dropped out of the race in September. The Court of Criminal Appeals rejected the government’s arguments on both counts.
On the campaign trail, Perry tried to rally support among Republican voters by saying the indictment was the result of a partisan attack by Democrats.
At the headquarters of an influential Texas Public Policy Foundation, that previously named its downtown balcony the “Gov. Rick Perry Liberty Balcony”, the former governor seemed relieved that his expensive legal fight had ended.
“A lower court had already dismissed the coercion charge, ruling that the law it was based on was unconstitutionally vague”.
Perry vetoed the funding for the unit after Lehmberg was charged with drunk-driving, insisting that she lost the public’s confidence.
Perry’s attorney, Tony Buzbee, said the ruling was a long time coming.