Texas Governor Rick Perry was indicted on Friday by a grand jury in Texas on two counts of abuse of power and coercion over a funding veto he made last year that was seen as being intended to force a local prosecutor to resign.
Perry, a possible Republican candidate in the 2016 presidential race, was indicted by a grand jury in Travis County with abuse of official capacity, a first-degree felony, and coercion of a public official, a third-degree felony.
A probe was launched last year after Perry vetoed $7.5 million in funding for an integrity unit that is part of the Travis County District Attorney’s office. The move was seen as hardball politics to force out county District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat, after she pleaded guilty to drunken driving.
The indictment said Perry, “with intent to harm another, to-wit, Rosemary Lehmberg and the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, intentionally or knowingly misused government property.”
Perry’s General Counsel, Mary Anne Wiley, said the veto was made in accordance with veto authority afforded under the Texas Constitution.
“We will continue to aggressively defend the governor’s lawful and constitutional action, and believe we will ultimately prevail,” she said.
Special prosecutor Michael McCrum said a conviction on the first-degree felony charge could bring between 5 to 99 years in prison. Perry will be arraigned next week, he added.