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Texas Gov. Perry Indicted For Abuse Of Power

Updated: Friday, August 15 2014, 09:31 PM CDT

A Travis County grand jury has indicted Texas Governor Rick Perry for abuse of power. A special prosecutor announced the decision Friday afternoon.

The panel was investigating Gov. Perry over his veto of $7.5 million in funds for the Travis County Public Integrity Unit last year.

Gov. Perry had promised the veto if Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg refused to resign in the wake of her drunk driving arrest.

He was indicted on felony counts of abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant. Maximum punishment on the first charge is five to 99 years in prison. The second is two to 10 years.

Mary Anne Wiley, General Counsel for Gov. Rick Perry, issued the following statement regarding the decision by the Travis County grand jury:

"The veto in question was made in accordance with the veto authority afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution. We will continue to aggressively defend the governor's lawful and constitutional action, and believe we will ultimately prevail."

David L. Botsford with the counsel for Gov. Perry also released this statement:

"I am outraged and appalled that the Grand Jury has taken this action, given the governor's constitutional right and duty to veto funding as he deems appropriate. This clearly represents political abuse of the court system and there is no legal basis in this decision. The facts of this case conclude that the governor's veto was lawful, appropriate and well within the authority of the office of the governor. Today's action, which violates the separation of powers outlined in the Texas Constitution, is nothing more than an effort to weaken the constitutional authority granted to the office of Texas governor, and sets a dangerous precedent by allowing a grand jury to punish the exercise of a lawful and constitutional authority afforded to the Texas governor."

Texans for Public Justice released the following statement.

"TPJ , which filed the original criminal complaint against Governor Perry in June 2013, is pleased to see a Travis County grand jury recognized Perry's bullying crossed the line into law breaking.  We believe Governor Perry should consider resignation. -- Craig McDonald, Director, Texans for Public Justice." 

Lt. Gov. Dewhurst released this statement:
"I'm disappointed with Travis County's attempt to criminalize state politics, in Gov. Perry's case, threatening a veto if a state subdivision did not act responsibly.  As I understand the facts, Governor Perry's acts were consistent with what any House or Senate Finance Chair would do to get the attention of a state agency."

(AP contributed to this report.)

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Texas Gov. Perry Indicted For Abuse Of Power

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