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Texas Governor Vows to Fight Indictment

  • VOA News

Texas Governor Rick Perry delivers a speech at the 2014 RedState Gathering in Fort Worth, Texas, Aug. 8, 2014.

Texas Governor Rick Perry is vowing to fight an indictment against him for abuse of power, saying the charge against him is a political move.

Perry spoke Saturday, one day after a grand jury in the state capital, Austin, charged him with two felony counts: abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public official. The charges stem from a funding veto that was seen as being intended to force the resignation of a local district attorney.

Governor Perry said he has done nothing wrong and that the indictment amounts to nothing more than an abuse of power. He said the Texas Constitution gives the state's governor the power to veto items at his discretion.

Perry said he used that authority to veto funding for an office he said had lost public confidence by acting inappropriately and unethically.

Last year, Perry threatened to veto $7.5 million in funding for the state public integrity unit of the Travis County District Attorney's Office unless District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg resigned following an arrest for drunken driving. Lehmberg is an influential Democrat, while Perry is a Republican. If Lehmberg had resigned, Perry would have appointed her replacement.

Later, Perry carried out his threat.

Lehmberg had pleaded guilty to drunk driving charges in 2013 and served time in jail.

In the United States, a district attorney represents the government in the prosecution of criminal offenses. The individual may be elected or appointed and is the head of a jurisdiction's legal department.

Perry has been making moves that indicate he is considering running for president in 2016. He has been Texas governor for 14 years, making him the longest-serving governor in Texas history. He does not plan to seek re-election.

Some information for this report comes from AP and Reuters.