Rick Perry to be investigated for "political blackmail"
4/14/14 UPDATE: Perry hires defense attorney:
The Austin American-Statesman is reporting that Gov. Rick Perry has hired a defense lawyer to represent him in an ongoing investigation into his veto of funding for the Public Integrity Unit housed in the Travis County DA's office.
"The hiring of David L. Botsford is the latest signal that the inquiry into Perry’s conduct might be gaining momentum after a seven-month investigation," wrote the Statesman's Tony Plohetski. A grand jury that could hear the case is expected to be chosen on Monday.
On Monday, a grand jury is expected to be seated to investigate Governor Rick Perry. At issue: his making good on a threat to veto public funds for a county-level office because the official in charge did not heed Perry's demand for a resignation.
The Austin American Statesman called the move "political blackmail," and investigators may be in agreement.
Specifically, Gov. Perry called for the resignation of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, stating that if she did not step down he would veto $7.5 million in state funds for the DA's Public Integrity Unit, which is charged with policing ethics of legislators and other state officeholders.
Lehmberg refused, and Gov. Perry made good on the veto.
Not coincidentally, the PIU was actively investigating donors associated with the officials overseeing one of Gov. Perry's signature projects, the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).
Attorney General Greg Abbott was among those charged with providing oversight to the cancer research entity, but that wasn't enough to prevent a felony indictment of a high-ranking CPRIT official.
Had Lehmberg resigned, it would have conveniently been up to the Governor to appoint her replacement.
This veto appears to be a thinly-veiled attempt to let both Rick Perry and Greg Abbott off the hook for corruption that took place on their watch. From an editorial in today's Statesman:
In a recent joint interview with Tony Plohetski and KVUE, the special prosecutor assigned to the investigation, Michael McCrum, stopped short of saying he thinks a crime was committed but made it very clear that Perry’s actions in the case give reason to doubt.
“I cannot elaborate on what exactly is concerning me, but I can tell you I am very concerned about certain aspects of what happened here,” said McCrum, a San Antonio attorney. He confirmed that the investigation was taking a close look at both Perry’s threat and the veto he carried out. Asked if his concerns pointed specifically at Perry or his staff, McCrum said, “Yes.”
We support the seriousness with which McCrum appears to have taken the investigation.
Texas government is no stranger to corruption under the Perry/Abbott regime. Now it's gone so far that Perry, without shame, offers to pay another one for an official action in return for a benefit to himself. Texans have had enough.