Gov. Perry Still Fighting Felony Indictment

     AUSTIN (CN) – Gov. Rick Perry’s attorneys on Monday asked that the felony indictment against him be dismissed as a violation of the Constitution’s separation of powers.
     In a 43-page motion to quash and dismiss the indictment, attorney David Botsford called the felony charges “unconstitutional as a matter of law.”
     The Monday filing echoed the claims in a pretrial writ of habeas corpus filed Aug. 28, where Perry’s attorneys they asked a judge to toss out charges for violating the First Amendment, among other constitutional arguments.
     Perry was indicted on Aug. 15 on two felony counts: abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant, stemming from his threat to veto money allocated by state lawmakers to Travis County District Attorney Mary Lehmberg and the Public Integrity Unit her office controls.
     In the most recent filing, attorneys called Perry’s veto power “one of the core duties assigned to a Texas Governor by the constitution.”
     “By requiring the judiciary to scrutinize a gubernatorial veto, this prosecution unduly interferes with the constitutionally assigned powers of another branch, thus violating the Texas Constitution’s explicit separation-of-powers guarantee,” Perry’s legal team says in the motion to dismiss.
     “Nothing in the Texas Constitution or laws permits the judicial department to scrutinize Governor Perry’s political decision to veto the PIU’s funding,” the document states.
     Lehmberg, a Democrat, pleaded guilty in April 2013 to criminal charges after being arrested on drunken driving charges. She refused to bow to the governor’s pressure and resign, so Perry made good on his threat and stripped her office’s Public Integrity Unit of $7 million.
     The motion to dismiss calls the veto constitutionally authorized and says the power to override a gubernatorial veto lies with the Texas Legislature and voters, not in the judicial system.
     “Should either deem veto decisions to be erroneous or improper, the Texas Constitution provides them a legislative or political countermeasure. The Legislature may, if it remains in session, override a gubernatorial veto,” the motion states.
     Voters can reject a governor at the ballot box if they have policy disagreements, attorneys say in the motion, “or they can elect legislators who will join in sufficient strength to override unpopular vetoes.”
     Perry, Texas’ longest-serving governor, took office in December 2000 when then-Gov. George W. Bush resigned to become president. Perry is stepping down at the end of the year amid speculation he will make another run for the White House.
     Perry claims that his veto threat was “not only lawful and legal but right.” His attorneys have called the charges politically motivated and “banana republic politics.”
     Perry’s next court hearing is scheduled for Oct. 13 in Austin.
     He is represented by Tony Buzbee of Houston, and by Baker Botts and Botsford & Roark, both of Austin.

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