Rick Perry

Indictment of Perry May Actually Increase His Stature


"So what do you think of Perry's chances in Iowa?"
Travis County Sheriff's Office

Probably the only thing bothering former Texas Gov. Rick Perry about being indicted for using his veto power to force Democratic District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg out of office following a drunken driving arrest is that they didn't wait until 2015 to give his possible presidential campaign a publicity push.

The immediate analysis outside of Democratic partisan circles is that the charges are maybe just a little bit trumped up and may end up letting a rich, powerful political figure play the victim card. From Bloomberg:

"Every Republican in Iowa that I have spoken to thinks it is a politically motivated scheme to tarnish him as he prepares for the 2016 campaign," said Jamie Johnson, a member of the party's state central committee who last month introduced Perry at a county fundraiser in the state that will host the first presidential nomination contest.

"This is going to backfire and it will help Rick Perry," said Johnson. "It will cause people to rally around him."

And it's not just the right supporting Perry against the accusations. David Axelrod, former adviser to President Barack Obama, called the charges "sketchy." Jonathan Chait calls the indictment "unbelievably ridiculous" because it's essentially punishing Perry "threatening" a veto before carrying through with it:

The prosecutors claim that, while vetoing the bill may be an official action, threatening a veto is not. Of course the threat of the veto is an integral part of its function. The legislature can hardly negotiate with the governor if he won't tell them in advance what he plans to veto. This is why, when you say the word "veto," the next word that springs to mind is "threat." That's how vetoes work.

The theory behind the indictment is flexible enough that almost any kind of political conflict could be defined as a "misuse" of power or "coercion" of one's opponents. To describe the indictment as "frivolous" gives it far more credence than it deserves. Perry may not be much smarter than a ham sandwich, but he is exactly as guilty as one.

The Texas Observer gives some more background on the scandal here, arguing that there is some partisanship here in Perry's actions in that the Democrat-controlled Public Integrity Unit was one of the few state agencies outside his influence and that he would have been the guy to appoint Lehmberg's replacement. The Observer also notes that the state's Public Integrity Unit's role in indicting former U.S. Majority Leader Republican Tom DeLay, so "naturally" (their adjective, not mine) the Republicans would want to strip it of its power. The Observer, however, fails to note that charges against DeLay were later tossed out on appeal due to lack of evidence. The state is trying to get them reinstated (note the name-check of Lehmberg in this story from March). A decision probably won't come until 2015.

The Observer does note what will likely end up protecting charges of partisanship or cronyism by Perry from getting much traction with the public: There is a video of Lehmberg's hilariously drunken escapades in jail following her arrest. Her blood alcohol level was tested at .239, nearly three times the legal limit, and it showed. She does not make exactly a compelling figure to defend the character of the Public Integrity Unit, and it's hard to see exactly who outside of Texas political figures will see Perry's behavior here in a negative light, even if his motives were extremely tainted.

Meanwhile, Perry, when not defending his decision as governor, is calling for more action in Iraq, because of course he is.

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  1. What is that picture of? Is that the super villain in the latest Batman flick?

    1. It’s just the Joker.

    2. It’s the district attorney of the Peoples Autonomous Republic of Travis County, Texas.

  2. “This is going to backfire and it will help Rick Perry,” said Johnson. “It will cause people to rally around him.”


  3. Sorry Texas, we let you have 2 presidencies, and both resulted in unnecessary and unpopular wars and massive expansion of unfunded domestic programs.

  4. Remember when the left declared Bush to be unfit for office because of a DUI.

    Oh yeah. Principals trump principles.

    1. So, I wonder how Rick Perry feels about prosecutorial over-reach now?

  5. My sense is that it will do precisely this. I’m not a Perry fan, but I found myself defending the guy just because the charges are such an insult to the public’s intelligence.

    1. Me too. I’m sure there’s plenty of crimes he’s committed, but it’s hard to point to this one as a crime.

    2. Just yesterday I told some friends that this was going to backfire, in a form of the Streisand Effect. When voters hear about this, they’ll think: “So the governor wanted a district attorney and head of the Public Integrity Unit to resign for being a drunk? What’s wrong with that?”

      Some local reporters also discovered that Lehmberg had purchased at least $4400 worth of liquor over the previous 15 months. If I drank $293 worth of liquor each month for 15 months, I’d be dead. This isn’t a “had an extra drink at a party” sort of DWI. This woman is a serious alcoholic.

      1. Doing the math, that comes to @ 8 ounces of vodka, on average, every day. Assuming she was drinking it herself, and assuming that was the only thing she drank.

        That’s . . . a lot. And I say that as someone who reliably downs 4 ounces of liquor a day.

        1. And that’s based on her purchases at only one store (or one chain of stores, I’ve forgotten).

      2. “When voters hear about this, they’ll think: “So the governor wanted a district attorney and head of the Public Integrity Unit to resign for being a drunk? What’s wrong with that?””

        I’m not sure they care about the voters, simply threatening uncooperative pols with prison.

      3. Um, where’s the Texas bar on all of this? Isn’t substance abuse an ethical thingee?

        1. Unless they’re worried that she’ll have the Bar’s Ethics Committee indicted like they did Perry.

        2. The bars are all for drinking, but not driving while drunk.

          1. True story: When I took the bar exam, during the evening of the first day, some young women attending some convention asked me and a few other attorneys with me why we were in town. We told them for the bar exam. They said, “Oh, you’re all going to be bartenders?” I tried to say yes, but, as typical among lawyers, some self-despising loser had to make sure they knew the truth.

        3. Her license was suspended for awhile after her conviction, but she’s got it back now.

          1. I dunno, having your license suspended for whatever reason seems like a decent cause for termination.

      4. She blew 0.23.

        As to the cost of her liquor, she may have had expensive tastes.

        1. The research includes the amount of liquor she bought. My round calculations are above.

          One other thought, though:

          I am not an expert, but anyone who is remotely as functional as she is with that kind of BAC has almost got to be a serious alcoholic.

          1. Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg’s Drinking Problem and Abuse of Power, By the Staggering Numbers

            From January 2012 to April 2013 ? 15 months ? Lehmberg made 59 purchases of alcohol at various Twin Liquors stores, a rate of nearly one purchase a week.

            She bought 76 bottles of alcohol. According to the receipts, Lehmberg prefers Ciroc vodka. Lehmberg routinely purchased 1.75 liter bottles of vodka, at a price of nearly $60 each. On occasions, she bought more than one 1.75 liter bottle of Ciroc at a time.

            Those 76 bottles add up to 24.7 gallons of alcohol purchased over 15 months. The last purchase in the KEYE-compiled list was on April 2, 2013 ? 10 days before her arrest for drunk driving, and the subsequent attempt to abuse her power by trying to intimidate the officers who processed her in jail. Lehmberg purchased vodka on that day. An open bottle of vodka was found in her car during her arrest.

            1. Here’s the dashcam video and audio of the field sobriety test.

              It’s a hoot.

            2. That’s around the daily 4oz territory mentioned above – same as me, in fact. The difference is I drink a steady 4oz a day and never get drunk. She probably has one or two benders a week but doesn’t drink on other nights.

              So… hardly “staggering”.

              1. That’s just her purchase records from one store, and the fact that she was at three times the legal limit says to me that she does more than one or two benders a week, but I’m no expert.

                1. 24.7 gallons over 15 months is 1.65 gallons/month, which is 211 oz/month, or about 7 oz./day.

                  To be able to take ten drinks in an hour, roughly what you need to do to blow a .23, requires a lot of practice. That seems like heavy-duty alcoholism to me.

                  1. ten drinks in an hour

                    That would put me in the hospital – I drink very slowly. I have found that after a couple decades of partying, getting drunk just isn’t a lot fun any more.

    3. I’m no fan of Gardasil Perry, former campaigner for Al Gore, but these charges are just bogus politics.

      I suppose a savvy politician should have expected that cutting the budget of prosecutors would really piss off said prosecutors. He should have known that they have the means and motivation to abuse power against him.

  6. Truely, she is the Rosa Parks of drunken politicos.

  7. A corporate executive would usually get fired for something like this. Or, at least, pushed to resign. But government officials should be held to lower standards, right?

    1. My Swiss masters shoved a very high ranking person, still on the up and rising more track because of a non-criminal incident involving a married co-worker and a $200 room service bill.


      1. Ja – my old man told me of a story of a married man who brought his girlfriend to a corporate party.

        The man was fired the next day. Of course this was in the 70s…

    2. Depends on what TEAM they are on.

    3. I have worked in the industrial sector for 20 years. Any employee detected with a DUI would be fired the next day. The employers take the simple position that they don’t want someone with that poor judgment making decisions on the factory floor.

    4. Also, corporate executives don’t have the power to coerce guilty pleas for DWI.

  8. If Lumberg* is like this to troopers who catch her at DUI, imagine how insufferable she must be to her own subordinates, or God forbid, the suspects she targets in her investigations?

    Of course, as Bo assures us, I only say this because Lumberg is a Dem and Perry is a Rep.

    *Deliberate misspelling

  9. This is a case of the members of the courthouse cliques, regardless of partisan affiliation, scratching each others’ backs and protecting each others’ turf. Perry could be a Republican, a Democrat, a Pastafarian or a Browns fan and they’d still target him for threatening their power.

    1. God, what a gift to Repubs this is.

      I can hardly wait to see how they will fuck it up.

      1. But since the prosecutor is Rep (as the media loves to remind us), it tells me it’s less about partisanship and more about the tax-fattened courthouse gangs attacking someone who dares touch their precious money.

        1. I mean, defying the laws you’re supposed to be enforcing, and threatening the people who enforce the laws against you, is one thing, but let’s zero in like a laser on the guy who tries to deny funding the an agency run by a scumbag scofflaw!

        2. I’m pretty sure Lehmberg is a Democrat.


          1. I mean the prosecutor against Perry.

  10. I agree the indictment is politically motivated. But I also think that this is a case of doing the right thing for the wrong reasons.

    If the legislature wanted to governor to fire misbehaving DA’s, they’d have given him that power. How is this not a power grab by the governor’s office?

    And on the substance, there’s nothing I’ve seen indicating the DUI had any impact on the DA’s job performance. Should everyone convicted of DUI be immediately fired? If your employer doesn’t, is it okay for the government to start using coercion to make them fire you?

    Are they any bounds on what the Governor can demand under threat of veto? Could he demand an openly gay DA resign? A non-christian one? Could he demand every democrat official in the state resign?

    1. The short answer to your questions is YES. The governor can demand anything by threat of veto. A veto is an intrinsically political act. The remedy for a misused veto is at the election booth, or by political action against the veto threat.

      The remedy is not a criminal indictment.

    2. “override”

      The solution is there. Also, should be easy to vote out a whack job that vetoes anything that doesn’t support an unusual/weird position.

      See also, Rod Blagjovech

      1. I’m not sure forcing non-christian officials to resign would be “an unusual/weird position” in Texas.

      2. Also, this is like saying that Obama can do whatever he likes and it must be constitutional because he hasn’t been impeached.

        1. Obama can veto any whole bill he likes. It’s one of his powers, just like vetoing any line item on a bill is one of Rick Perry’s powers. Your argument is nonsense.

          1. Your argument is nonsense.

            Consider the source.

    3. How is this not a power grab by the governor’s office?

      He has the unquestioned authority to veto spending bills.

      He has the authority, as well, to say he is going to veto a spending bill unless and until certain things happen. This is called “politics” and “negotiation.”

      What power, exactly, is he grabbing here?

      1. A prosecutor has the unquestioned authority to petition a grand jury for an indictment. If all that matters is authority and raw political will, what’s the complaint then?

        1. The utter absurdity of the indictment and the abuse of prosecutorial authority in Travis County are at the root of the complaint.

          Your complaint about Perry seems to be that he practices politics in a manner that you think is incorrect. That is not a crime except in libertopia.

          1. And your complaint about the prosecutor in Travis County seems to be that he practices politics in a manner you think is incorrect.

            You can’t legitimately argue for official restraint on one hand while saying “hey, that’s politics” on the other.

            1. Vetoing bills, or parts of them, is one of Rick Perry’s constitutional powers. Malicious prosecution is not one of the Travis County DA’s constitutional powers.

            2. And your complaint about the prosecutor in Travis County seems to be that he practices politics in a manner you think is incorrect.

              No, my complaint is that the prosecutor is practicing politics at all.

              You see the difference between a politician holding a political office, and an attorney acting as an officer of the court, yes?

        2. Grand juries should not be indicting ham sandwiches.

        3. Because the prosecutor is supposed to only get an indictments based on a faithful interpretation of the law. The governor in contrast is free to veto bills for whatever reason he likes. Governor’s or politicians in general are free to take political actions for even the basest of reasons short of outright bribery. Prosecutors in contrast have special ethical duties to follow the law in good faith and not subvert it for politics.

          Your argument boils down to “because the governor can veto things for political reasons, it is okay for a prosecutor to charge people for political reasons”.

          You really have let the mask slip here. You are nothing but a nasty prog. Only a Prog could defend this. The only difference between you and Tony and Shreek is that you are marginally smarter and do a better job of concern trolling and pretending to be something you are not. That is until this issue arose.

    4. And on the substance, there’s nothing I’ve seen indicating the DUI had any impact on the DA’s job performance.

      Well, not counting the fact that she lost her license and couldn’t do the job in any way for, I think it was, 18 months.

      1. And was in jail for 45 days.

    5. The answer in the states may vary, but I’m not sure courts would review a question about why a president exercises (or threatens to exercise) a veto right. It’s a classic political question about an inherent power. The president could just flip a coin to decide whether or not to veto, and no one could really second-guess his decision.

      On the other hand, the Congress could also impeach him, which also can’t really be questioned.

    6. If the governor has the power of veto, and he exercises that power, he is performing the job of governor. Every veto has political considerations. You may disagree with veto, and use political means to overturn it, but to criminally indict a governor for publicly exercising legitimate veto power is an attempt to criminalize politics.

      This will end badly for Democrats. Unfortunately, it also erodes rule of law, and that affects us all.

      1. It will end badly for the country. When you see how people like Dragon think this sort of shit is just great (provided of course their team is the one doing the indicting), it is pretty clear the GOP either must resort to using the same tactics or face the prospect of the Democrats making it a criminal offense to be a Republican politician. Doing that however, will totally destroy the rule of law and make the criminal justice system just politics by other means.

        I hope Dragon is proud of his contribution to civil society. Assholes.

    7. But I also think that this is a case of doing the right thing for the wrong reasons.

      Translation: I like the politics of this so I am totally okay withe abuse of the criminal justice system to achieve a political end I support. Or I hate Rick Perry so I am totally fine with railroading him to prison if that is what it takes to end his career.

      Good to know where you stand there Stormy.

      1. Or 3) I think Perry is being a hypocrit saying this prosecution is politicizing the matter when it was already politicized from the begin.

        I also don’t like the idea of a precedent for the governor using the line item veto to black mail other parts of the government into doing things he has no power to make them do normally. That’s exactly the sort of unrestrained executive power people like Lois Lerner and Eric Holder have abused to punsih political opponents.

        But all the Team Red types here love unrestrained excutives as long as they’re abusing their power to punish liberals.

        1. So you don’t like Perry or the actions he has taken and therefore are totally okay with abusing the criminal justice system to make political differences criminal.

          Thanks for restating the exact position I claimed you had. Are you so stupid you don’t understand your own position or do you think the readers of this board are too stupid to see it for what it is?

        2. That’s exactly the sort of unrestrained executive power people like Lois Lerner and Eric Holder have abused to punsih political opponents.

          Other than the small fact that Holder and Lerner both violated actual laws, you analogy works.

          You are such an appallingly ignorant troll you seem to actually believe that “taking an action that I think is an abuse of power” is the same thing as “violating the law”.

          1. Case in point Cameron Todd Willingham:

            In 2005, Texas established a nine-member Texas Forensic Science Commission (TFSC). As part of the Commission’s inquiry into the Willingham case, another fire scientist wrote a report that agreed with Gerald Hurst that the charge of arson could not be sustained given the available evidence.[86] Two days before the Commission was to hold a hearing on this report, Perry replaced three of members of the TFSC.[87] Perry’s newly appointed Chairman promptly canceled the hearing. Perry denied that the dismissals were related to the case, noting that the terms of the replaced persons were expiring.[88]

            But hey, Perry has the unquestioned authority to replace those officials. Oh well.

            1. So your position now is “Hey Perry did something bad in 2005 so it is totally okay to abuse the criminal justice system to get him for something”.

              WTF is wrong with you? I know you are a fascist prog. But why do you think the rest of us are or that that sort of bullshit logic will fly here?

        3. Don’t forget, Stormy:

          Me today, you tomorrow.

          I expect your ringing endorsement when a Repub/conservative prosecutor indicts a Dem governor for threatening a veto of, oh, I dunno, funding for enforcement of safety regulations on abortion clinics.

          1. Dragon doesn’t give a shit.

  11. Indictment of Perry May Actually Increase His Stature

    225 lost cases and D.A. Burger finally cracks.

  12. “The Observer also notes that the state’s Public Integrity Unit’s role in indicting former U.S. Majority Leader Republican Tom DeLay, so “naturally” (their adjective, not mine) the Republicans would want to strip it of its power.”

    But it eveidently failed to not that there is good reason to do exactly that:

    From a National Review editorial:


    “Travis County prosecutors have long abused their power to pursue political vendettas, and the Democrat-controlled Public Integrity Unit is routinely deployed as a political weapon. This is the same gang that, under the cracked leadership of Ronnie Earle, destroyed Representative Tom DeLay’s political career using the inventive means of charging him with having broken a law that hadn’t even been passed at the time he was alleged to have broken it. That project ultimately ended in a scathing judicial rebuke, and DeLay was cleared of all charges ? but convictions are not the point: Using the criminal-justice process to harass, defame, and bankrupt political enemies is the point. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison was given similar treatment, though she was not driven from office “

    1. And it is not just Texas. Remember Ted Stevens in Alaska saw his political career end after Democrats in the Justice Department committed proprietorial misconduct to gain a conviction.

  13. Heck, I thought the same of Blagojevich’s criminalized actions. I thought negotiating favors was most of what politicians did. It’s not like they were doing something they didn’t rightly have the power to do, nor negotiating for something in exchange that whoever they were negotiating with didn’t rightly have the power to do. Compared to all the shit they do to us perfectly legally that I wish they did not have to legal power to do…?!

    Hell, they got a (libertarian & pagan) friend of mine, Dan Halloran, on approximately the same basis, in that case a vague federal statute provision, “deprivation of honest services”.

    1. OTOH, I am in favor of assassination for political reasons. It seems much more honorable than political prosecutions.

      1. And it’s not bad for the rule of law, because everyone would understand murder is still illegal, because you’d assassinate stealthily rather than openly.

    2. I never could figure out what Blagojevich was supposed to have done wrong. Politicians give out political appointments based on donations all of the time. That is really all he did as far as I could see.

      1. And it wasn’t even based on a donation, at least not in any direct way.

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