Once again, there’s more bad news for Rick Perry and his presumed presidential campaign in 2016. For the second time, a judge has refused to toss the case against the former Texas governor. Perry is facing two charges that he abused his power while in office by using his power as governor to try to remove a Texas District Attorney who some people considered to be his political adversary.
This case is an obstacle to another White House bid for the former governor who went down in flames early on in the 2012 Republican presidential primaries after making some embarrassing gaffes, including only being able to name two of the three federal agencies he wanted to get rid of.
A judge on Tuesday rejected former Gov. Rick Perry’s attempt to throw out a two-count indictment against him, saying it’s too early in the case to challenge the constitutionality of the charges.
Perry’s attorneys immediately filed notice that they will appeal the 21-page ruling, which was issued Tuesday afternoon by Bert Richardson, a Republican; the appeals process could take months. The appeal will be considered by the Texas 3rd Court of Appeals.
Perry was indicted on Aug. 15 over allegations he abused the power of his office by threatening to veto funding for the state’s public integrity unit unless Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, who had pleaded guilty to drunken driving, resigned. The public integrity unit, which is charged with investigating and prosecuting state corruption, is housed within the Travis County District Attorney’s office. (Source)
If Rick Perry wants to make another run for the White House in 2016, being under active felony indictments when launching his campaign is not a great way to start, and I’m sure the Republican National Committee would not be pleased at the free political ammunition it would give to Democrats. Granted, with the exception of Jeb Bush, the rest of the presumed field is laughable at best – even with Mitt Romney planning make his third attempt to buy the presidency.
I also find these indictments, along with the possibility of Rick Perry serving jail time to be at least a small measure of poetic justice. The fact that his attorneys are arguing against the constitutionality of the charges brought against him is especially amusing considering that Rick Perry has signed off on the execution of at least one man who may have very well been innocent of murder. In 2004, Texas executed Cameron Todd Willingham, who was convicted on hearsay evidence for the deaths of his three daughters in a 1991 house fire. Willingham claimed the fire was an accident and maintained his innocence until his execution, although a prisoner claimed that Willingham had confessed to murdering them during a conversation between the two in jail. Prosecutorial misconduct was suspected in the case, yet despite the evidence showing that Willingham was likely innocent, Rick Perry refused to stay the execution and Cameron Todd Willingham was put to death on February 17th, 2004.
If Rick Perry is indeed found guilty of the two felony charges of abuse of power, he could spend the rest of his life in prison – although the chances of a sentence that severe are unlikely as we witnessed in the recent sentence handed out to former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell.
A grand jury in Austin – a liberal enclave in otherwise largely conservative Texas – indicted Perry. If convicted, the former governor faces a maximum 109 years in prison. Perry calls the matter a political witch hunt and says he would issue the veto again if given the chance. When he was booked and fingerprinted, Perry smirked in his mug shot – then tweeted about going for ice cream. (Source)
While we cannot bring back the people who may have been wrongfully executed under the Rick Perry administration and although it will take years to undo the damage Rick Perry has done to the state, even a couple of years behind bars would still be some small measure of justice. Now if only Bobby Jindal could be the next Republican governor to be indicted.
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