Rick Perry Will Waive Indictment
AUSTIN, Texas (CN) - Texas Gov. Rick Perry will plead not guilty to two felony counts and will not appear for a Friday morning arraignment, his office said Wednesday.
Perry, who is mulling another go at the White House in 2016, will travel to the early primary state of New Hampshire for two days of events, starting with a noon luncheon Friday.
His attorney David Botsford filed a waiver of arraignment Tuesday, the same day Texas' longest-serving governor was fingerprinted and photographed for processing.
A Travis County grand jury indicted Perry on two felony counts Friday: abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant.
The New Hampshire Republican State Committee, which will host Perry this weekend, wasn't deterred by the political firestorm in Texas, calling the charges "ridiculous."
"It appears that partisan political operatives are trying to smear the governor for demanding accountability from a politician who had lost the public's confidence after she was convicted of a crime and thrown in jail," New Hampshire Republican State Committee Chairman Jennifer Horn said in a statement. "It is obvious to anybody who watches the video of the District Attorney's disgraceful conduct that she does not deserve to remain in office."
Travis County District Attorney Mary Lehmberg, a Democrat, pleaded guilty in April 2013 to criminal charges relating to her arrest on drunken driving charges. Eight months later, she survived an attempt by Travis County Attorney David Escamilla to remove her from her job.
Perry demanded that Lehmberg resign shortly after her arrest. He issued a line-item veto of Senate Bill 1, stripping her office's Public Integrity Unit of more than $7 million that had been earmarked by state lawmakers.
Perry on Tuesday called the indictments a political act.
"I remain focused on the work of the people of this state, doing the job I was elected to do, and I will not be distracted by these baseless political charges," Perry said.
Perry's weekend schedule includes a Saturday night Republican Party reception, followed by a victory rally Saturday morning and a picnic with the Merrimack County GOP.
It was unclear Wednesday when Perry's next hearing will be.