August 21st, 2014
11:43 AM ET
3 months ago

Rick Perry's lawyers call cancer research accusation a 'red herring'

(CNN) - Rick Perry’s lawyers pushed back against a central accusation by Democrats that the Texas governor’s office was being investigated about questionable funding for a cancer research project.

The accusations over the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, CPRIT, are tangential to the two felony charges against the longtime Republican governor over his veto of funding for the Public Integrity Unit. His lawyers Thursday called the cancer funding accusations a “red herring.”


His lawyers released an affidavit from a former criminal investigator with the PIU to dispel any notion that Perry’s veto was related to cancer research funding. In the affidavit, Chris Walling said he was not investigating anyone in the governor’s office “during or after” the veto of PIU funding.

"Any suggestion that Governor Rick Perry or anyone associated with him was being investigated is untrue," Walling wrote.

The Texas Democratic Party has been honing in on cancer research funding as a reason Perry – who's considered a potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate – vetoed PIU funding.

A confident Rick Perry hits the road after indictment

“It’s no coincidence that Perry tried to eliminate the PIU while they were investigating the Cancer Research Institute – a state institution that gave more than $40 million in taxpayer funds to Abbott and Perry donors,” Texas Democratic Party Executive Director Will Hailer said in a recent statement. Greg Abbott is currently running for governor.

Ed Espinoza, head of the liberal group “Progress Texas,” was dismissive of the claim made in Walling’s affidavit.

"Does Rick Perry's high-priced legal team really expect us to believe that the governor had no interest in protecting his signature project?” Espinoza asked in a statement released Thursday. “This was a scandal-plagued agency that has already seen one of its officers receive a felony indictment for funneling millions to donors of Rick Perry and Greg Abbott.”

The case centers on Perry's June 2013 veto of the $7.5 million budget for the unit run by Rosemary Lehmberg, after she refused his demand to resign following her drunken driving arrest and conviction.

Perry addressed the indictment during an event in Washington, D.C. Thursday, saying he is "very confident" that he will be cleared of any wrong doing.

"These are fundamentally principles that are very important, namely a governor's power to veto legislation and funding and the right of free speech," he said at an event hosted by the conservative Heritage Foundation.

At the time of Perry's veto, an investigation of CPRIT was taking place, however, leading to the indictment of one executive of the program.

“At no time in CPRIT investigation was Governor Rick Perry or anyone from the governor’s office a target,” Walling wrote.

Perry’s attorney, Ben Ginsberg, who also represented President George W. Bush during the 2000 recount, told reporters that “Democrats are trying to make it float up stream,” insisting that Perry’s indictment falls apart with the release of this affidavit.

CNN's Alan Silverleib contributed to this story.


Filed under: Rick Perry
soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. Lynda/Minnesota

    Silence DoGood
    Can I watch the next time Perry accuses our President of abusing his executive authority?
    I want to see if people really do choke on their words.
    ----------------–

    Best post of the day. Kudos, Silence.

    August 21, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    Just before Perry entered the courthouse for his arraignment, he gave a sound bite about a couple of topics related to his indictment. Perry described the threat that he made towards Rosemary Lehmberg were an exercise of his right to free speech. He couldn't be more wrong on that count.

    Citizen Perry has the right to free speech, but when he puts on the Governor's hat he ceases being Citizen Perry. To suggest that a sitting Governor has the right to say anything he wants as he carries out his duties is absurd. It just doesn't work that way. According to Perry, he could make all sorts of dictator like threats. He could even threaten to send the Texas National Guard after someone if they do not come to heel. Nope. Sorry, Governor, that's not how it works.

    August 21, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  3. just asking

    Jeff Brown in Jersey
    --
    @just asking
    the obama administration funneled hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to obama contributors that owned solyndra. the taxpayers got stiffed and obama's contributors walked away with full pockets. how is the dept of justice investigation into this going??? oh yeah, there isn't one.
    ---
    What does this have to do with Perry?
    ----

    well, democrats are accusing perry of doing something illegal and it was exactly what the obama administration did. if it is illegal for one, should it be illegal for the other? or if it is legal for one, shouldn't it be legal for the other?

    August 21, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  4. Dead Bear

    Indictment or no, Perry literally has no shot at the White House. So please! For the love of God stop with the "they're trying to bring the man down" stuff! He does a good enough job of that himself.

    August 21, 2014 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    "Our legal system should never, ever allow these types of indictments to be handed down when the person being accused is not allowed to present evidence to the grand jury"
    ---------------------------------
    A grand jury hearing is not a trial. A grand jury decides whether or not there is "probable cause" that a crime has been committed, and whether or not the correct suspect has been identified. The accused has no say in the matter. Instead of prosecutor deciding what, if any, charges to bring against whom, a jury of your peers makes the decision.

    August 21, 2014 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    "The more I read your comments, the more I realize you know nothing about how government works at its various levels in America. Grand Jury chum- is called from the pool of potential jurors in the county they live in. Really? You think the President calls up county juries in Texas? What a whopper!"

    He never replies to anything. But, people do when he takes a flying leap off of the cliff.

    August 21, 2014 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  7. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    He should have been indicted for deregulating everything in Texas which is causing the lives of citizens. He's got blood on his hands from the explosion that took place in West Texas.

    August 21, 2014 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  8. Silence DoGood

    @just asking
    Jeff Brown in Jersey
    -
    @just asking
    the obama administration funneled hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to obama contributors that owned solyndra. the taxpayers got stiffed and obama's contributors walked away with full pockets. how is the dept of justice investigation into this going??? oh yeah, there isn't one.
    -
    What does this have to do with Perry?
    --
    well, democrats are accusing perry of doing something illegal and it was exactly what the obama administration did. if it is illegal for one, should it be illegal for the other? or if it is legal for one, shouldn't it be legal for the other?
    -----
    So your entire argument is that Perry is as bad as your imaginary image of Obama?

    August 21, 2014 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  9. Boo

    Rick Perry is corrupt to the core. Google Vanity Fair/Rick Perry and read why.

    August 21, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  10. Longtimer

    Perry is representative of the GOP's own strangled and painful self-suicide. Except that now, Perry's career is quite dead, and we're waiting on the rest of the Republicans to go.

    August 21, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  11. salty dog

    So rick Perry is doing the same as Obama, you constantly critic Obama, and make excuses for Perry, why am I not the least bit surprised, you really don't realize you haven't the ability to be fair do you?

    August 21, 2014 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  12. DougH2

    Perry is about to be out of a job. He can't screw up the Presidential interview again. However, he joins the growing band of scandal-ridden Republican Governors blaming their misfortunes on Democrats.

    August 21, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  13. salty dog

    So, when evidence is shown to the common person, they find that he has broken laws, but to the gop its business as usual, sounds about right. It really should be hard to support this party, but its breeding ground for the hard headed, uneducated populous.

    August 21, 2014 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  14. texasnotea

    Bra,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,!!!!!!!!!!!!! Look at you Rick!!!!!! Maybe God can get you out of this one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 21, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  15. texasnotea

    Move over Tom Delay, you've got company!!!!!

    August 21, 2014 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  16. salty dog

    Well the Republicans presidential line up looks more and more like a NYPD line up, oh man, who's left that's not currently embroiled in scandal?

    August 21, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    DougH2

    Saying he has veto authority and the ability to push an elected official to resign at the threat of using it is like a bank robber saying he has a 2nd amendment right to bear arms and a 1st amendment right say "give me your money or I'll shoot." That's funny. Like the two have nothing to do with each other.
    ----------------------------------
    Believe it or not, but your argument is essentially identical to the one Perry made yesterday just before he entered the courthouse. He asserted his authority to use a veto [2nd], and declared that his threat was simply free speech.

    August 21, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  18. it must be said

    texasnotea
    Move over Tom Delay, you've got company!!!!!
    -–

    Yes, Delay was found innocent as will be Perry. Actually, it'll get thrown out and never come to trial.

    August 21, 2014 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  19. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    So basically Rick is saying a governor of a state has the power to do whatever he wants to do, however the President of the United States must do what Congress tells him to do? At least THIS POTUS.

    These people are hilarious. 😊😊

    August 21, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  20. g

    if you see Perry heading for the Mexican border with duffel bags to join his friends in mexico .I think once PERRY is gone a lot of the illegal problem will be gone too

    August 21, 2014 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  21. excuse my rant

    it must be said
    texasnotea
    Move over Tom Delay, you've got company!!!!!
    -–

    Yes, Delay was found innocent as will be Perry. Actually, it'll get thrown out and never come to trial.
    __________________
    Delay was initially convicted but then it was overturned, a ruling which is currently being appealed and may not have a decision until 2015. So the story isn't over on that one yet.

    August 21, 2014 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  22. salty dog

    Delay not innocent, they changed the law that he broke, then dropped charges, he never seen a jail cell. But he did break the law at the time, to my understanding anyway, perhaps I'm wrong on that, but what do you suppose you would say about a Democrat in the same instance, can't admit it can you, your a small minded, juvenile, immature man, just saying.

    August 21, 2014 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  23. salty dog

    I agree that Perry will never go to trial, the gop never gets held responsible for anything, no wonder they say being a Republican means never having to say sorry. Just shows their skill at perverting the justice system.

    August 21, 2014 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
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