[Rushtalk] Political Payback: Rick Perry Indicted in Power Struggle with Democrat-Controlled DA Office

Tom Matiska tom.matiska at att.net
Wed Oct 1 11:24:05 MDT 2014

45 days late.....  Tom
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Carl William Spitzer IV <cwsiv at copper.net> wrote:

>Political Payback: Rick Perry Indicted in Power Struggle with
>Democrat-Controlled DA Office 
>by Sarah Rumpf 15 Aug 2014 859 post a comment 
>AUSTIN, Texas — A grand jury indicted Governor Rick Perry Friday for his
>attempts to remove Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg
>from office after she was arrested for driving while intoxicated last
>year in a case that made national headlines.
>In April 2013, Lehmberg was arrested after a witness called 911,
>describing her as driving erratically, swerving back and forth into the
>bike lane, and into oncoming traffic. Officers at the scene reportedly
>found an open bottle of vodka in her car, and a blood sample obtained
>later that evening purportedly showed a blood alcohol level of 0.239—
>almost three times the legal limit—even that many hours later.
>Not only did her arrest attracted headlines, but her belligerent
>behavior after she was brought to the police station—all captured on
>video tape—drew attention, as well. Lehmberg is seen blaming the police
>for destroying her political career, yelling and insulting them;
>demanding that they call Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton; sticking
>out her tongue; making faces; kicking at the door to her cell; and
>eventually getting restrained with leg irons, being strapped to a chair
>and wearing what is commonly referred to as a “spit mask,” which is
>usually used when a detainee is spitting or biting. To be fair, the
>video does not expressly show that happening, and Lehmberg’s defense
>attorney later claimed that the mask was used to “protect her
>U_TUBE @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7y7oJ266qI
>Lehmberg’s sentence, a fine and 45 days in jail, was most likely the
>highest in history in Travis County for a first-time DWI charge. The
>investigation into her case also revealed a less-than-flattering picture
>of her drinking habits. Subpoenaed receipts from Twin Liquors showed her
>buying 72 bottles of Cirroc vodka—totaling more than 23 gallons—in a
>15-month period, and that Lehmberg spread her purchases out among
>different stores. This amount only covers purchases made with her credit
>card at that one liquor store chain, not cash purchases or alcohol
>obtained elsewhere.
>In Texas, the district attorney is the county’s lead law enforcement
>officer, and the Travis County District Attorney has the additional
>responsibility of prosecuting public crimes under the Public Integrity
>Unit, leading to a loud outcry for Lehmberg’s resignation from lawmakers
>and public safety groups. State Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford) sharply
>condemned her behavior, saying that what he’d seen on the videos from
>her arrest “showed incredible belligerence and disrespect” and an “utter
>contempt and disrespect for the law and for the office."
>The Texas Local Government Code, in Chapter 87, allows public officials
>like district attorneys to be removed from office for "incompetency,
>official misconduct, habitual drunkenness, or other causes defined by
>law." The 1987 revision to the law added a single incidence of
>intoxication on or off duty as a potential cause for removal.
>However, because Lehmberg is a Democrat, elected in Travis County, one
>of the most Democratic-heavy areas of the state, and Governor Perry, a
>Republican, would be able to pick her replacement, other Democrats
>quickly rallied to her defense. Other prosecutors who worked under
>Lehmberg publicly supported her remaining in office, as did State
>Senator Kirk Watson (D-Austin).
>Frustrated with Lehmberg’s refusal to resign and maintaining his
>position that someone who had committed her offenses was not fit for
>office, either as the district attorney or as head of the Public
>Integrity Unit, Perry then announced plans to veto funding for the
>Public Integrity Unit unless Lehmberg resigned. Texas law clearly grants
>the governor the power to veto funding for the Public Integrity Unit and
>many other agencies, but Democrats supporting Lehmberg howled in
>The Travis County District Attorney’s office has a long history of
>politically-motivated prosecutions, including the 2005 indictment of
>former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay for alleged campaign finance
>violations. DeLay’s convictions were completely overturned and he was
>acquitted after an appeal to the Third District Texas Court of Appeals
>in 2013—too late to save his political career.
>Here, a liberal watchdog group called Texans for Public Justice filed an
>ethics complaint against Perry earlier this year, and a grand jury was
>convened in the case. Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed said at the time,
>"The veto in question was made in accordance with the veto power
>afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution, and we remain
>ready and willing to assist with this inquiry."
>The grand jury’s indictment today, under the supervision of appointed
>special prosecutor, Michael McCrum, starts the process for a criminal
>case against the Governor but by no means guarantees that an actual
>criminal conviction will result. The grand jury process is entirely
>one-sided, controlled by the prosecutors, who present only their side.
>There’s a famous quote from Tom Wolfe’s book Bonfire of the Vanities,
>noting that prosecutors have so much power over this process that they
>could “indict a ham sandwich” if they so chose.
>Perry’s office released a statement, through his general counsel Mary
>Anne Wiley, stating that the governor's actions were allowed under the
>law and that they would vigorously fight these charges.
>“The veto in question was made in accordance with the veto authority
>afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution," said Wiley.
>"We will continue to aggressively defend the governor's lawful and
>constitutional action, and believe we will ultimately prevail.”
>In the meantime, Lehmberg is facing a new set of legal troubles, as an
>ethics complaint was filed against her last week, accusing her of
>failing to properly report on her campaign finance reports the source of
>the more than $227,000 in attorneys fees she paid to her defense
>The complaint was filed by Austin attorney Kerry O’Brien, the same
>attorney who had previously filed a lawsuit to have her removed from
>office, under a provision of Texas law that allows any Texas citizen to
>bring such a suit against a public official who is unfit for office. The
>specific allegations of the complaint note that Lehmberg’s campaign
>finance reports note a $227,885 legal bill due to the Austin-based law
>firm Richards, Rodriguez & Skeith, some partial payments on that bill
>totaling $16,060, but do not indicate the source of the funds. Lehmberg
>has said that she intends to raise contributions to cover the remaining
>$211,825 still owed, but has not yet reported any such contributions. 
>The Texas Ethics Commission has five days to determine if the complaint
>against Lehmberg is sufficient to move forward with an investigation.
>Breitbart Texas will continue to follow this story. 
>This post has been updated.
>Sarah Elizabeth Rumpf is a political and communications consultant
>living in Austin. You can follow her on Twitter at @rumpfshaker.
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