During a press conference on Saturday, the Governor defended the lawfulness of his actions. “As Governor, I took an oath to faithfully uphold the Constitution of Texas, a pledge I have kept every day as I have worked on behalf of Texans for the last fourteen years. It’s the same Constitution that clearly outlines the authority of any Governor to veto items at his or her discretion.”
On Friday, Perry was charged with abuse of official capacity, a first-degree felony, and coercion of a public official, a misdemeanor, stemming from a carried-out threat to veto funding for the public integrity unit of the Travis County District, which is run by Democrat Rosemary Lehmberg’s office.
Lehmberg was convicted of a DUI in 2013 and Perry carried out his threat to veto after she refused his demand to leave her post.
Perry dismissed the indictment as a purely political move. “This indictment amounts to nothing more than abuse of power,” Perry said. “And I cannot and will not allow that to happen.”
According to the AP, the Texans for Public Justice government watchdog group were the first to file an ethics complaint accusing Perry of coercion since he threatened to use his veto before doing so in an attempt to pressure Lehmberg to quit.
“I intend to fight against those who would erode our state’s constitution and laws purely for political purposes and I intend to win,” Perry said in response to the indictment during his press conference. “I’m confident that we will win, that this farce of a prosecution will be revealed for what it is.”
Perry has already announced he would not seek re-election as Governor of Texas, but is widely seen as a likely candidate to run for President in 2016.