August 17th, 2014
02:37 PM ET
6 years 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. 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."

    Ricky and RWNJs everywhere constantly bemoan people (especially those from a "continental origin" other than themselves) who disobey the law, saying that their actions are undermining "values" and "destroying" America.

    And yet, Ricky's indictment on felony charges is being used as a rallying point for fundraising.

    The hypocrisy is astounding!


    August 17, 2014 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  2. belinda

    When it was a friend, a State Senator, who was arrested for Drunk Driving, Perry went out of his way for him and supported his unpopular lobbying efforts. When interviewed recently, Rick Perry, stated that "Governors can do whatever they want" That says it all. No Rick, apparently not. Finally, Justice Prevails. The Republican Party, in the state of Texas, has done what all red states are doing , ripping off Middle Class taxpayers and giving Billion Dollar tax cuts to Corporations, when they all ready have a tax code that is a total rip off. We are the ones that have to pay for what they don't. Everything.

    August 17, 2014 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  3. belinda

    Nothing would make me happier than to see him in jail, where he belongs.

    August 17, 2014 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  4. Nancy

    Do we really want to see Perry sued and then the D.A. resign on her own.

    August 17, 2014 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  5. vikingwoman

    I'm looking forward for all the dirt to come out! Perry's sitting on a pile! And talk about an emperor....soon w/out his clothes!!

    August 17, 2014 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  6. Bill from GA

    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. "

    Our governor in Georgia makes Perry look like a Cub Scout. The state Ethics Committee was investigating Gov Deal so he defunded them. The state has paid MILLIONS to 4 people laid off for investigating Gov Deal. The first Million or so was a court settlement; three others out of court, cause it's Election Season, ya know, and the stink might last till November if it was all drug through court.

    Where's the Justice Department when you need them?? They're NEVER around.

    (Maybe if Gov Deal was running for Prez, justice would pay attention to him!)

    August 17, 2014 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  7. Jayson

    Where is her indictment for threats made against police officers who were processing her? Apparently it's okay to use coercion if your a Democrat but a crime if your a. Republican

    August 17, 2014 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  8. Bubba

    So basically Perry is saying that he is not ashamed of breaking the law, and will do so again. How is this a good thing?

    August 17, 2014 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  9. Vardo

    Does the gov., want to push the trial date asap, or, will his lawyer push to delay, delay, delay, the way Tom Delay did?
    Problem is, the prosecutor's had a year to line up the witnesses and evidence. The gov. never saw the indictment coming. Ranting it's all dirty politics is not a legal defense in a felony prosecution. He can't claim he did not do the crime, he did, on public airwaves, in print, and at televised interviews. His hate for Rosemary overcame his good judgment, and the judgment of his advisers. His hate for the public integrity prosecution unit he could not control combined with the bravado he could force Rosemary out as head of a ranking DA's office with public announcements of her disgraceful behavior was more than he, and the Perry Power Politics cadre could resist.

    Welcome to the power of the grand jury system Gov. Perry. It's not an institution to be taken lightly.

    The gov. should learn a lesson in humility from Rosemary. Plea guilty now, to a bargained misdemeanor. Pay the fine.
    Serve 45 days in jail. Come out with the full support of supporters with a chance to regain public support.

    August 17, 2014 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  10. KungFuKool

    Just your average racist, criminal, run of the mill republican.
    Perry 2016!

    August 17, 2014 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  11. S. B. Stein

    If he was willing to cut funding for a program because there was someone who didn't agree with him, that shows a possible abuse of power. Just because you don't like the person running a program doesn't mean that you shut it down because it is doing a good and needed job.

    August 17, 2014 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  12. Dave

    The more defiant, hypocritical, and threatening Perry is in his response, the longer his sentence should be,if convicted.
    When a convict blames everyone else for his crime and shows zero remorse, that demands a tough response, so an example is set for the community. Being lenient just because Perry is a governor, or Republican, would disgrace the sentencing judge.

    August 17, 2014 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  13. Brass9

    If Perry is really innocent, let him go through the court and legal system to prove that he is innocent. He should know this by now – 'You are innocent until proven guilty'.

    I am sure, our Republican friends including leaders know how to use the courts and legal system to their advantage. Take for an example, George Bush could not get elected by people and used Supreme court where he was selected by five Republican judges to be the President of USA. We including our same Republican friends and leaders know how disastrous Mr. Bush and his administration turned out to be.

    August 18, 2014 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  14. gustifer53

    I would just like to hear Perry tell us what 3 government agencies he is going to shut down if he were elected President??? He is such a Yahoo, it's unimaginable how the ignorant one was ever

    August 18, 2014 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  15. Yogol

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

    Who should be indicted? The Democrat that brough the charges, the Republican chief Judge that accepted the case or the Republican special Judge that saw merit in the case?

    Please, be specific!

    August 18, 2014 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  16. Iamnotfooled

    So Perry, it is for political purposes you say? So is suing President Obama by the GOP.

    August 18, 2014 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  17. YoonYoungJo

    If this is about Perry using his veto to force a drunk driver to step down as head of a ethics panel ONLY, he's in the right.

    If this is about Perry trying to force Lehmberg step down because of an investigation into possible corruption and bribery, and he used the drunk driving as an excuse, he's in the wrong.

    August 18, 2014 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  18. Jerk Simpson

    Perry diverted $10 million from the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas and gave it to his supporters. The lead scientists and doctors left and complained that there was no science being applied to their research and that they hadn't received the promised funds. Some scientists quit as a result and reported this to the Texas Public Integrity Unit, which is where Lehmberg works.

    Lehmberg headed the investigation that uncovered that the missing funds had missed cancer research and found Rick Perry's supporters instead, all $10 million worth. After Lehmberg got caught driving drunk Perry threatened to cut funds if she didn't resign. He hoped he could stop the investigation from uncovering additional information on the missing funds now in his supporter's pockets. He was going to be indicted either way but instead of investigating, Lehmberg had to fight to keep her position in the Texas Public Integrity Unit, which the court allowed. Since Perry's intimidation tactics didn't work, he cut $7.5 million from the Texas Public Integrity Unit not as intimidation, but retribution.

    August 18, 2014 02:50 am at 2:50 am |
  19. J.V.hodgson

    Hi Freedom
    Would you please note a grand jury and a judge supports the issue of an indictment based on evidence presented So when you say Obama Hilary and The entire Obama cabinet should be indicted along with ISA favorites like IRS and NSA ( You forgot Benghazi). after two years plus of investigations these committees have failed to come up with sufficient evidence to indict. any how the correct procedure to remove all the people you suggest is impeachment.
    But No Boehner is suing the president for doing the same type of thing the last Bush did.....
    Incidentally 1 governors and 1 ex governor both republicans Perry and McDonnell are facing criminal indictments and Christie still under investigation re Bridge gate

    August 18, 2014 02:56 am at 2:56 am |
  20. Vence

    Look who's the criminal this time!!!

    August 18, 2014 04:45 am at 4:45 am |
  21. Rob

    Seems like a political attack from the left. Perry is making Obama and his gang look bad because he, Perry, is taking an active stance against the illegals flooding the country. As for this so call prosecutor, if she is breaking the law and then claims to be fighting corruption, she should have resigned. Good Luck Gov. Perry

    August 18, 2014 05:22 am at 5:22 am |
  22. salty dog

    Fteedumb, your literally saying every gop being investigated is a witch hunt, and every democrat is legitimate, nope, nothing wrong with you, too funny!

    August 18, 2014 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
  23. redhotrash

    Perry has my support and vote. I'd happily take him over barry or h any day.

    August 18, 2014 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  24. old age voter

    if blowing a 3+ for a DUI isn't enough for a Democrat to lose their job as part of the public integrity unit, what is?

    cigar up the who-ha maybe????

    August 18, 2014 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  25. salty dog

    Quality guy, the best the gop has to offer, yikes!!

    August 18, 2014 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
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