AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been indicted for abuse of power after carrying out a threat to veto funding for state public corruption prosecutors.
The Republican governor's accused of abusing his official powers by publicly promising to veto $7.5 million for the state public integrity unit at the Travis County District Attorney's office. He was indicted by an Austin grand jury Friday 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.
Perry said he'd veto the funding if the district attorney, Rosemary Lehmberg, didn't resign. Lehmberg had recently been convicted of drunken driving. When Lehmberg refused, Perry carried out his veto.
The former presidential candidate is the first Texas governor indicted in nearly a century. Special Prosecutor Michael McCrum said that the two charges are both felonies. "The grand jury's spoken that at least there's probable cause to believe that he committed two crimes, two felony crimes. For count one, it's five-to-99 years in prison. And for count two, it's two-to-10 years in prison."
"I looked at the law, I looked at the facts and I presented everything possible to the grand jury," added McCrum.
The General Counsel for Governor Perry issued a statement disputing the charges and defending Perry's actions. Mary Anne Wiley released the following statement:
"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."