Governor Palin detailed just how absurd Rick Perry’s “indictment” — obtained from a simple Texas grand jury by an even simpler Texas prosecutor — was in a piece yesterday. One could dismiss Governor Palin’s critique as simply one former Republican governor defending a current Republican governor, but so ridiculous is Perry’s indictment that even committed lefty Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine isn’t buying it:
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg — a Democrat who oversees the state’s Public Corruption unit — was arrested for driving very, very drunk. What followed was a relatively ordinary political dispute. Perry, not unreasonably, urged Lehmberg to resign. Democrats, not unreasonably, resisted out of fear that Perry would replace her with a Republican. Perry, not unreasonably, announced and carried out a threat to veto funding for her agency until Lehmberg resigned.
I do not have a fancy law degree from Harvard or Yale or, for that matter, anywhere. I am but a humble country blogger. And yet, having read the indictment, legal training of any kind seems unnecessary to grasp its flimsiness.
Perry stands accused of violating two laws. One is a statute defining as an offense “misus[ing] government property, services, personnel, or any other thing of value belonging to the government that has come into the public servant’s custody or possession by virtue of the public servant’s office or employment.” The veto threat, according to the prosecutor, amounted to a “misuse.” Why? That is hard to say.
The other statute prohibits anybody in government from “influenc[ing] or attempt[ing] to influence a public servant in a specific exercise of his official power or a specific performance of his official duty or influenc[ing] or attempt[ing] to influence a public servant to violate the public servant’s known legal duty.”
But that statute also specifically exempts “an official action taken by the member of the governing body.” The prosecutors claim that, while vetoing the bill may be an official action, threatening a veto is not. Of course the threat of the veto is an integral part of its function. The legislature can hardly negotiate with the governor if he won’t tell them in advance what he plans to veto. This is why, when you say the word “veto,” the next word that springs to mind is “threat.” That’s how vetoes work.
Touché. Read the rest of Chait’s piece here. Again, if you haven’t read Governor Palin’s excellent piece, click here and do so. The Governor knows a thing or two about politically motivated frivolous lawsuits.
Update: More on this from Bloomberg, hardly a conservative source:
Rosemary Lehmberg, the Democratic district attorney in Travis County, Texas, spent three weeks in jail last year for drunken driving, prompting Republican Governor Rick Perry to call on her to resign. She refused — and now her supporters hope to have the last laugh by sending Perry away for a lot longer. The criminal case against him is a farce and should be dismissed faster than prairie fire with a tail wind.