Texas governor Rick Perry was on Friday indicted by Austin grand jury on charges of abuse of his official powers.
Perry, a potential Republican presidential candidate for 2016 polls, has been accused of misusing his official capacity by carrying out a threat to veto funding for state public corruption prosecutors.
He is accused of publicly promising to veto USD 7.5 million for the public integrity unit of the state at the office of Travis County district attorney.
The Austin grand jury summoned the leader on felony counts of abuse of official power and coercion of a public servant. If the charges are proved against Perry then he may get five to 99 years imprisonment as maximum punishment on the first charge and up to 10 years on the second count.
According to the officials, Perry has said that he would veto the funding against district attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, who is convicted of drunken driving, in case she didn’t resign from her position. Troubles mounted for Perry when he carried out his veto when Lehmberg refused to quit.
Marry Anne Wiley, general counsel for Perry, defended the governor’s action saying, “The veto in question was made in accordance with the veto authority afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution.”
She further said, “We will continue to aggressively defend the governor’s lawful and constitutional action, and believe we will ultimately prevail.”
Top aides of the Republican governor, including his deputy chief of staff, legislative director and general counsel, also appeared before grand jurors in Austin. Perry himself, however, did not testify.
Meanwhile, an ethics complaint has been filed by the left-leaning Texans for Public Justice Government watchdog group against Perry.
In their complaint, the group accused the governor of indulging in coercion as he threatened to use his veto just in attempt to put pressure on Lehmberg to resign.
Perry, who is in office since 2000, is longest-serving governor in Texas history. Even if he is not seeking re-election in November, the criminal proceedings against him could possibly mar his political prospects at a time when he is planning to take another chance at the White House by contesting in 2016 presidential polls.