August 21st, 2014
11:43 AM ET
4 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. rs

    This one will be interesting to follow. First, because while Gov. Perry is well within his authority to veto bills and budgets, that he performed the strange quid pro quo- and demanded the resignation of a state employee, theoretically over a DUI (when the fine, and appropriate punishment has already been handled)-especially as the individual handled relatively large campaign contributions for Perry.
    Second, that Perry and his attorney feel they can somehow blame the indictment put forward by a Republican prosecutor and affirmed by a grand jury empanelled in Austin from the general populace (you know, Jury Duty).
    So, the process is not "rigged" by Democrats. If Mr. Perry and attorneys will attempt to lies thusly, what else are they lying about?

    August 21, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  2. The REAL Truth...

    The Republican spin machine in TX is working overtime on damage control. Maybe they should heed Perry's advice and "settle differences at the ballot box" and not with [frivolous] lawsuits against a sitting POTUS. Oh wait.. they tried that and the majority of Americans overwhelmingly rejected it TWICE!
    The GOP has only won a Presidential popular vote ONE TIME in the last 25 yrs..

    August 21, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  3. 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.

    August 21, 2014 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  4. yerkiddinright

    So the investigators point to a potential motive and Ricky's lawyers say "nothing to see here". I'm sure I believe them. Especially since they worked on the Florida recount. They seem honest. *cough*

    August 21, 2014 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  5. sonny chapman

    Any Gov. that would deny Medicare Coverage & thus Medical Treatment to thousands of Poor Folks in their State, just to try to get the Nomination for Prez(He's got plenty of company), wouldn't bat an eye denying Cancer Treatment .

    August 21, 2014 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  6. Tampa Tim

    Republicans are getting good at conducting trials on Fox News instead of in a court room.

    August 21, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  7. 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.

    August 21, 2014 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  8. just saying

    well, the looney lefties are putting on their tin foil hats, swilling a bottle of jd and concocting some real nutty conspiracy theories now! have you all cleared this with the mothership?

    August 21, 2014 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  9. Lily

    Ricky Perry is like Cheney and his daughter (Liz Cheney), who think Pres. Obama must be punished for the consequences of their actions he is facing now. I wish all Dems should wake up and go and practice their right to vote come November. If Dems will continue to hold the Senate and gain some seats from congress, these people will end up behind the bars. They did very bad things and must be punished for what they did. As simple as that!

    August 21, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  10. Rick McDaniel

    Fake charges against Perry, are nothing but Obama payback, for exposing the criminal importation of illegals into our country.

    August 21, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  11. ritmocojo

    Hey GOtPers, Dems can play the 'take you to court' game just the same.

    August 21, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  12. rick

    No matter how little or big the office is. There will always end up making accusations. Some plausable. Some so far out the astronauts have to duck them on space station. Thats why most americans are fed up with their representitives. And essentialy the choice between two or more vieing for a position. Means nothing to the avarage person today. When you have a barrel full of rotten apples. It stinks no matter which one you pick out of it.. And the barrel is too heavy to toss out to the trash. Metaphors yes. But appropriate..

    August 21, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  13. Longtimer

    just saying

    well, the looney lefties are putting on their tin foil hats, swilling a bottle of jd and concocting some real nutty conspiracy theories now! have you all cleared this with the mothership?
    _______________
    Who is saying the Republican Prosecutor and the Grand Jury are somehow "Democrats swimming upstream"? Maybe you should read your statements to yourself in a mirror first....

    August 21, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  14. Longtimer

    Rick McDaniel

    Fake charges against Perry, are nothing but Obama payback, for exposing the criminal importation of illegals into our country.
    ___________________________
    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!

    August 21, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  15. kurt

    A governor has the power to veto a spending bill.

    What he cannot do is sell the use of that power or promise to not use that power in exchange for something. The governor of texas can't veto a bill in exchange for a cash payment. He also can't threaten to veto a bill in exchange for a cash payment.

    What Perry did was threaten to veto (and eventually to actually veto) a part of a bill in exchange for a public official resigning. The question is if using his power to force a resignation is any more legal then using his power to force someone to give him money.

    This is very similar to Rod Blagojevich. He had the power to appoint senators. He was recorded as expressing his desire to "get something in exchange" for appointing someone to the senate seat.

    Perry was looking to "get something in exchange" for not vetoing the funding of this particular group (the resignation of the groups leader).

    This is why Perry was charged. It was illegal when Blagojevich did it... and it was illegal when Perry did it. You can't sell the use of the power you get as an elected official... at least not openly.

    August 21, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  16. Fundamentally Transforming America Through Progressive Destruction of Capitalism and Replacing It with Socialism-Communism

    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. This ridiculousness is a total abuse of our legal system and now has been politicized by Democrats. It is used as a smear mechanism, pure and simple. A way to harass and cost people millions in lawyer costs to defend themselves. Wake up America to the destruction being spread by the leftist Democrats in this country.

    August 21, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  17. 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? Oh yeah, deflect and muddy the waters. If Obama did ANYTHING illegal, Darrel "Career Criminal" Issa would be screaming to Faux "News" instead of making up stories about Libya and the IRS!

    August 21, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  18. Rusty Krus

    @Rick McDaniel
    Fake charges against Perry, are nothing but Obama payback, for exposing the criminal importation of illegals into our country.

    I was going to post a clever response to this, but I remembered it's only crazy Rick McDaniel. Why bother?

    August 21, 2014 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  19. rs

    Fundamentally Transforming America Through Progressive Destruction of Capitalism and Replacing It with Socialism-Communism

    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
    _____________________________
    So, you want craven politicians to be immune from the laws that govern the rest of us? That is certainly an interesting and anti-American idea!

    August 21, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  20. DougH2

    Indicted for a felony by a grand jury impaneled by a Republican special prosecutor. This guy is in real trouble.

    August 21, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  21. Marie MD

    @rs, so the oops governor is well within his authority to veto bills and budgets, etc., etc., but our President is being sued by the teaklaners who want to impeach him for doing the same?
    @just asking, you r thinking of the heartless shot your friends puppeteer named cheney.

    August 21, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  22. Pollopa

    Seems to me Perry's lawyers are doing him damage. Why would you keep the story in the news with this? Soon other stories holding news will fade, this has the potential to be another Christie type issue. Wouldn't it have been better to stay above the fray like he started by showing up as a law abiding citizen should do, and otherwise laying low? Texas sized ego on display. Not what America would vote for as a leader. Texas is lucky he's not running again. The bravado works there, and they'd be stuck with this loser for another go around.

    August 21, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  23. Page Turner

    @just saying
    well, the looney lefties are putting on their tin foil hats, swilling a bottle of jd and concocting some real nutty conspiracy theories now! have you all cleared this with the mothership?

    What conspiracy theories are you referring to? It's the right wing that's crying about this. Especially the one about Obama being behind this. Report back to YOUR Mothership, Faux "News"... Just Sayin'...

    August 21, 2014 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  24. rick

    So the red herring gave out the money or did Perry's office do it?

    August 21, 2014 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  25. 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.

    August 21, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
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