August 17th, 2014
02:37 PM ET
4 months ago

Perry has no regrets about veto, critic tells CNN that’s not the point

Washington (CNN) - In a defiant interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Gov. Rick Perry of Texas said again that despite a recent indictment, he wouldn’t take back the veto threat that triggered the legal action. However, the leader of a Texas watchdog group told CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday the veto isn’t the issue.

It’s a complicated case with long-term political implications. On Friday, Perry was indicted by a grand jury on two felony counts related to his efforts to try and force a Democratic district attorney to resign after a DWI.

According to Michael McCrum, the special prosecutor in the case, the indictment alleges that the circumstances around Perry's veto threat amounted to a misuse of state money earmarked by the Legislature to fund the public integrity unit in Travis County run by Rosemary Lehmberg.

The second charge alleges that he improperly used the veto threat to get her to resign following her arrest on a drunken driving charge. She stayed in office.

"I stood up for the rule of law in the state of Texas. And if I had to do it again, I would make exactly the same decision," Perry said.

Craig McDonald of Texans for Public Justice, however, said on ”State of the Union”  the central issue isn’t the veto but rather the idea that a governor would decide that Lehmberg must resign.

“The governor is doing a pretty good job to try to make this about [Lehmberg] and her DWI conviction,” McDonald. “But this has never been about his veto of her budget and about her. This is about his abuse of power and his coercion trying to get another public citizen to give up their job.”

Perry claims that his opponents are playing politics, referring to the indictment as "a farce of a prosecution."

"It is outrageous that some would use partisan political theatrics to rip away at the very fabric of our state's constitution,” Perry said Saturday. “This indictment amounts to nothing more than abuse of power, and I cannot and I will not allow that to happen.”

McDonald flatly denied that.

“Well, we have filed criminal complaints against politicians of both parties over the 16 years we've been in business,” McDonald said.

“No politician in the prosecutor's office or the judicial system in Travis County has laid a hand on this.  Our complaint went to the chief Republican judge, head of this judicial district, a Republican appointee of Gov. Perry's. He turned it over and appointed a special judge, again, a Republican from San Antonio to oversee the matter. That Republican judge appointed a special prosecutor because he thought the case had that merit.”

If Perry is convicted, he could face a maximum of 99 years in jail. However, McDonald declined to weigh in on any sort of punishment.

"I don't know what penalty it deserves,” McDonald said. “He does deserve to be held accountable. He clearly in our minds and apparently the minds of other Republican jurists looks like he broke the law. He needs to be held accountable for that."

- CNN’s Mary Grace Lucas contributed to this report.

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.


Filed under: 2016 • Michael McCrum • Rick Perry • Rosemary Lehmberg • Texas • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Pat

    So next whomever brought these charges should be indicted with abuse of power charges under the same legal theory.

    August 17, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  2. drake mallard

    Rick Perry= too stupid to be president

    August 17, 2014 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  3. freedom

    The entire president's cabinet, including Obama and Hilary should be indicted, as well as IRS and NSA officials. The Perry indictment is BOGUS! Especially compared to the lawlessness of this administration. Are you people blind?

    August 17, 2014 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  4. MC

    Its fun to count the number of GOP drunk drivers he has insisted on being fired – 0

    August 17, 2014 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  5. Tampa Tim

    Republican governors are getting close to have enough for a prison yearly pin up calendar. Krispy, Walker, Scott, Perry, are unfit to govern, and we haven't gotten to mention NC, TN, SC, GA.

    August 17, 2014 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  6. YoonYoungJo

    If Perry vetoed because The head of the ethics board wouldn't step down after being caught drunk driving and making a rampage at the police station, then I stand by his veto. If, it is in any way connected to a prior ethics violation and investigation into Perry by her board, then I question the veto. They are the same things but very different circumstances. It is very different to ask someone to step down and threaten to defund a ethics board due to poor display of ethics. And another to veto funding because ultimately she was investigating corruption and bribery of the Gov.

    August 17, 2014 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  7. Darrell44

    put him in jail!

    August 17, 2014 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  8. Gurgyl

    -I don't know how texans voted for this guy. It shows how stupid they are to elect this creature. My laughter knew no bounds. Is he for WH? May be in kitchen as a cook. None of the republicans are worth your dime.

    August 17, 2014 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  9. ThinkAgain - Don't like Congress? Get rid the repub/tea bag majority.

    "In a defiant interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Gov. Rick Perry of Texas said again that despite a recent indictment, he wouldn’t take back the veto threat that triggered the legal action. "

    Sounds like Ricky needs to learn the consequences of his abuse of power the hard way, by taking the indictment to trial and if found guilty, throw his fanny in jail.

    August 17, 2014 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  10. rs

    Just ANOTHER Republican to whom either the rules don't apply, or so ethically challenged that they cannot see the failure of their actions and motives.

    August 17, 2014 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  11. TxRepublican

    Thank you, CNN, for correctly reporting that this is not just a Republican vs. Democrat issue. The people who evaluated the charges and presented them to the grand jury are not beholden in any way to Travis County, its DA, or any of its politics. They are solid conservatives (the special prosecutor was recommended for US Attorney by both Republican US senators) who evaluated the facts and the law as they saw them. I don't know if the Governor is guilty, but as a former prosecutor who knows several of the people involved, I am sure that the prosecution acted in a proper nonpartisan manner.

    August 17, 2014 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  12. Chris..E.Al

    This is just another dem witch hunt to distract or to divert attention from all the serious and costly phlegn jobs and delayed disasters that are coming to a theatre near you very soon ? Do you feel it ?

    August 17, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  13. Pk dustere#e

    Perry said to j leno he wants to mine on the moon do i need to say more

    August 17, 2014 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  14. The REAL Truth...

    Yet another Republican gubner (Perry, TX) indicted in felony counts while complaining about Washington overreach, the POTUS overstepping his authority and ignoring the Constitution..
    And people say that Republicans don't have a sense of humor!

    August 17, 2014 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  15. Chipster

    I don't know what employment agreements are required in order to fire an employee. A traffic violation, even a DUI, may not be sufficient for the Governor to be able to demand a resignation. There may be a morals clause but probably not. However, using his power to cut funding or otherwise use legislation to force a department head to resign would sure be an abuse of power. it will be interesting to see how this shakes out. Perry is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Even Texas should be able to do better.

    August 17, 2014 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  16. Rick McDaniel

    The point is........the charges are hog wash, as the Governor has the power of veto.

    August 17, 2014 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  17. iBot

    Some of these commenters are too stupid to vote.

    If opposing Perry and seeking for him to go jail, fine; but that means defending the 'victim' DA Lehmberg to remain in position and perhaps for her re-election. I would highly recommend watching all of the videos, from her stop by police, to arrest, to booking in jail. Then give some time to reflect.

    Unfortunately CNN did not provide both sides of the story... once again.

    August 17, 2014 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  18. ted

    God Bless this great nation!

    August 17, 2014 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  19. Smitty

    So let me get the FACTS, A da got a dui, Mr Perry stated she should resign, now shes vengeful for getting the dui ?? you really cant make this stuff up. Doesn't matter dem or repub, need to lead by example, not lip service and getting duis!!

    August 17, 2014 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  20. Donna

    Even hard core Democrat David Axelrod calls this indictment "sketchy". It is a total misuse of government and the courts to attack political opponents AGAIN by the Democrats. This has now become a well known pattern of the Democrats. It is another tactic in their box of dirty political tricks. Every American should be outraged by this, just as they should be outraged by the use of the IRS by the Democrats to attack Americans participating in our political process.

    August 17, 2014 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  21. just saying

    the democrat prosecutor indicted perry because he had already indicted a ham sandwich last month and was feeling really confident of his abilities. this should be summarily dismissed and thrown out by the judge for what it is, a cheap political stunt by a democrat partisan trying to smear a political opponent. democrats just continue to try and bring this country lower and lower with these types of smear tactics.

    August 17, 2014 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  22. yerkiddinright

    Rick Perry's too stupid to know that he even broke the law.

    August 17, 2014 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  23. Patrick

    It's a sad day when a man who nearly held the highest position in the White House is now indicted for a crime where the maximum punitive sentence is 99 years. What makes it worse is his defiance to the law and his blaming it on everyone else but himself. That inability to accept responsibility only highlights what's wrong with this country.

    August 17, 2014 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  24. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    @freedom
    The entire president's cabinet, including Obama and Hilary should be indicted, as well as IRS and NSA officials. The Perry indictment is BOGUS! Especially compared to the lawlessness of this administration. Are you people blind?

    Where are the facts that this administration has been lawless? You say the Perry indictment is bogus...why? You understand all the legal complexities of the case? Just because a little jerk like Hannity says it's true, doesn't make it true.

    August 17, 2014 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  25. don in albuquerque

    freedump
    Please cite "real" reasons. No we're not blind, but we're not stupid either.

    August 17, 2014 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
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