Gov. Rick Perry was indicted on two felony counts for abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant late Friday by a Travis County grand jury.
The case stems from Perry’s vetoing the $7.5 million biennial funding for the Travis County Public Integrity Unit last year. He threatened to withhold the money unless District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg resigned.
A special prosecutor, Michael McCrum, was appointed to look into the case and the current grand jury has been studying the charges since April.
At issue was whether Perry was simply playing typical political politics or whether he crossed a line by threatening a public official to take an action (resigning) by which he might benefit.
The grand jury was looking at potentially three state statutes: whether the metro-sexual Republican governor tried to bribe a public official into stepping down; if he abused his position by misusing public funding “to obtain a benefit”; and whether he tried to coerce Lehmberg into taking “a specific performance of her official duty.”
Perry’s office has defended his actions, saying he exercised his constitutional authority to veto appropriations.
A half-dozen Perry staff members have appeared before the grand jury, including his budget expert, legislative liaison, deputy communications director and criminal justice adviser.