Texas Gov. Rick Perry was indicted by a grand jury on Friday for alleged abuse of power. The blow to the 2016 presidential hopeful concerned a threat to cut off funding to his state’s public integrity unit.
At a news conference on Saturday, Perry referred to the indictment as a “farce” and said, “We don’t settle political differences with indictments in this country. … This indictment amounts to nothing more than abuse of power.”
In April 2013, Perry called for the resignation of Travis County Democratic District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, after she was convicted of drunken driving. Perry said publicly that he would veto $7.5 million over two years for the public integrity unit, which she runs. When he did so, his words were seen by a grand jury as an acted-upon threat.
“I took into account the fact that we’re talking about a governor of a state — and a governor of the state of Texas, which we all love,” Michael McCrum, the prosecutor who led the case against Perry, said to ABC. “Obviously that carries a lot of importance. But when it gets down to it, the law is the law.”
Perry’s indictment for abuse of official capacity is a first-degree felony, and the other, coercion of a public servant, is a third-degree felony. The first has a possible punishment of five to ninety-nine years in prison, and the second could lead to two to ten years.