Friday, October 24, 2014

Rick Perry tangled in politics

Texas governor charged on two felony counts of coercion, abuse of power

Gov. Rick Perry was indicted Friday, Aug. 15, on charges of coercion and abuse of official capacity. If the governor is convicted of the latter, he could face a total of 99 years in prison. The major problem with the charges — they are hardly legitimate.

POLITICIZED — Governor’s indictment catapulted Texas political scene into the national news cycle, calling Perry’s leadership into question. Photo credit: Google Images

POLITICIZED — Governor’s indictment catapulted Texas political scene into the national news cycle, calling Perry’s leadership into question. Photo credit: Google Images

Perry was indicted by the Travis County grand jury for vetoing state funds to the area’s District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg in 2013. Perry vetoed funding to the Travis County prosecutor after her arrest and conviction for drunken driving and subsequent refusal to step down.

According to news reports, Lehmberg was arrested alone in her vehicle, accompanied by an open bottle of vodka, after a 911-call warning of her reckless driving. The district attorney had a blood-alcohol level three times above the legal limit. Upon arriving at the police department, Lehmberg was so erratic and violent that she had to be physically restrained.

As the investigation moved forward, a serious drinking problem was uncovered. In one year alone, Lehmberg purchased 72 bottles of vodka from just one store, “PolitiFact” confirmed.

Needless to say, Perry lost confidence in her ability to lead and made good on his promise to block her funding, should she refuse to step down.

Perry is responsible for the well-being of the state of Texas, and he was doing what he thought to be right. By electing him governor, the citizens of Texas gave Perry the responsibility to exercise his judgment as he sees fit.

However, the legitimacy of his actions is not the primary concern here. This is all about destruction of character. Perry asked a reckless democratic prosecutor — under his leadership — to resign. Now, the political left is reacting in the same reckless way as Lehmberg.

“Gov. Perry used appropriate tools under the Texas Constitution to urge Lehmberg to do the right thing using line item veto power to defund the Public Integrity Unit until it could actually serve the public with integrity, under a leader who had integrity,” Gov. Sarah Palin said.

Perry even offered to give the position to the next Democrat in line, Lehmberg’s right-hand man. He just wanted this unfit district attorney removed, and, according to one major Obama confidant, the governor was not out of line.

“Unless he was demonstrably trying to scrap the ethics unit for other than his stated reason, Perry indictment seems pretty sketchy,” David Axelrod, former adviser to President Obama, tweeted.

Even Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz — no fan of the governor — voiced his disapproval of the indictment.

“The idea of indicting him because he threatened to veto spending unless a district attorney who was caught drinking and driving resigned, that’s not anything for a criminal indictment,” Dershowitz told “Newsmax.” “That’s a political issue.”

Needless to say, progressive voices like that are few and far between. The left and their advocates in the media are hoping the general public will do nothing more than read the breaking news notification on their smartphones: “Texas Governor Perry Indicted on Two Felony Charges.”

I do not fear for Gov. Perry. He is a big dog with plenty of pals in high places, including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Rather, I am disgusted by the sensationalism of our media and the fear-mongering behavior of our elected officials.

When we have differences in the United States, this is not how we solve them. Sadly, this Chicago-style, bullish politicking has been endorsed and, quite frankly, encouraged by the administration in Washington, and I do not see a resolution in the near future.

“Across the board you’re seeing people weigh in and reflecting that this is way outside of the norm,” Perry said. “This is not the way we settle differences. You don’t do it with indictments. We settle our political differences at the ballot box.”

Perry is right. We live in a society tempered by Republican government and democratic discussion, not emotive reaction and criminalized politics.

“There is no doubt (the case) is politically motivated,” former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said. “It’s a conspiracy to use the legal system to politicize politics.”

This issue is close to DeLay, as he was indicted in 2005 by a Travis County grand jury for allegedly seeking to break election laws with charges of money laundering. Unsurprisingly, the Texas Court of Appeals acquitted him of all charges in September 2013 due to “legally insufficient” evidence.

The governor has hired a high-profile legal team, with lawyers Ben Ginsberg and Tony Buzbee leading the way. Ginsberg represented former President George W. Bush in the 2000 vote recount and co-chaired President Obama’s committee on election administration.

Buzbee has won many millions of dollars in awards for his clients and promoted himself with a two-word slogan: “Just win.” Needless to say, he’s a bulldog when it comes to legal fights.

Perry is the first Texas governor to be indicted in nearly a century and, by the looks of it, he is not going to sit by and watch this battle from the sidelines. He’s fighting like any good Texan would — guns blazing.

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