The indictment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry on criminal charges has gained national attention – particularly since Gov. Perry is being seen as a possible presidential contender.
In a speech given at the conservative Heritage Foundation, Perry defended himself by saying he was acting within the constitutional boundaries of his veto authority. While much of the debate has centered around Perry’s veto authority, the real legal debate is much more serious.
The Texas Standard’s David Brown speaks with Andrew Wheat, research director at Texans For Public Justice. Wheat was one of the first to file a complaint against Perry – an action that later resulted in an indictment. Wheat sheds some light on some of the more criminal elements of the case and how he came about them.
On filing the original complaint:
"[The Austin American-Statesman] contained a story talking about how Governor Perry issued some threats to our District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg – basically saying that she had to resign her elected office, or he was going to veto funds for the Public Integrity Unit, which her office runs … So we started to take a little look at the statutes and we found four things that seemed on point for potential felonies. … We ended up filing a complaint with the appropriate authority, who ironically in this case was the same Rosemary Lehmberg."
On Rick Perry’s veto power:
"Everybody agrees [Perry] has veto power. Our complaint, interestingly enough, was filed shortly before the veto even occurred. Why? Because it didn’t have to do with the veto, it had to do with threatening another official, in the context of which the veto was kind of the billy-club used to threaten the official in demanding she step down. It was the threats that caused the problem, not the veto itself."