Gov. Rick Perry Calls Indictment a 'Farce'
AUSTIN (CN) - In his first public comments since being indicted on felony charges of abuse of power and coercion, Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Saturday angrily denounced the accusations as a political "farce of a prosecution."
A Travis County grand jury on Friday indicted Perry , a Republican, on two felony charges after he followed through on threats to yank funding from Travis County District Attorney Mary Lehmberg's ethics investigation unit if she did not resign after a drunk driving arrest.
When Lehmberg, a Democrat, refused, Perry issued a line-item veto of Senate Bill 1 in June 2013, stripping her office's Public Integrity Unit of more than $7 million that had been earmarked by state lawmakers.
At a brief news conference Saturday, Perry said he "wholeheartedly and unequivocally" stands behind that veto.
"We don't settle political differences with indictments in this country," Perry said. "It is outrageous that some would use partisan political theatrics to rip away at the very fabric of our state's constitution."
Perry said the Texas Constitution "clearly" allows the governor to veto items at his or her discretion.
"Just as I have, following every legislative session during my service as governor, I exercised this authority to veto funding for an office whose leadership had lost the public's confidence by acting inappropriately and unethically," Perry said.
"This indictment amounts to nothing more than an abuse of power, and I cannot and will not allow that to happen. I intend to fight against those who would erode our state's constitution and laws purely for political purposes, and I intend to win."
Perry said the prosecution "will be revealed for what it is" and hopes the people behind it "will be held to account."
Immediately after Perry's veto, watchdog group Texans for Public Justice complained to Lehmberg and Travis County Attorney David Escamilla that Perry had acted to get things he could not achieve through "legal" and "democratic" means.
"First, to remove an elected Democrat and replace her with an appointed Republican DA," the group said at the time. "Second, to wipe out the state's public corruption watchdog, which is currently investigating corruption in at least one of the governor's signature corporate subsidy programs."