Texas Gov. Rick Perry: New glasses, new lawyer
At first glance,
that Texas Gov. Rick Perry has hired a defense lawyer in connection with an inquiry over a budget veto he issued last year may seem a little odd. But the issue isn't so much whether Perry has the power to veto legislation he opposes, it's whether it is legal
for him to use the veto to achieve unrelated political goals:
A grand jury will be seated Monday afternoon to consider a criminal case against Governor Rick Perry.
At issue is whether Perry illegally vetoed funding for the state’s Public Integrity Unit, which operates out of the Travis County District Attorney’s office.
The conflict began with Travis County D-A Rosemary Lehmberg’s drunk driving conviction last April. Perry nixed funding for the state office she ran, saying the public lost faith in her.
The Public Integrity Unit investigated allegations of wrongdoing by state elected officials. The office is still functioning, but no longer handles state cases.
It's pretty clear
that Perry used Lehmberg's DUI as an excuse to gut the Public Integrity Unit, which not only began the prosecution of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, but also prosecuted criminal violations of state environmental law. Neither of those two things are very much popular in Rick Perry's universe, so when he saw an opportunity to target the office, he seized it, saying he would block the funding if Lehmberg didn't resign, a move that would have allowed Perry to select her replacement.
Neither Lehmberg nor Travis County bended to Perry's will, so he vetoed their funding. And now a grand jury will consider whether Perry's power play was illegal, so stay tuned.