The special prosecutor in an ongoing investigation into whether Gov. Rick Perry violated state law by vetoing funding for the Travis County ethics-enforcement unit is seeking to hire an investigator and researcher, the first public hint the probe is moving forward past its initial stage.
In a request filed Tuesday in Travis County district court, Michael McCrum of San Antonio sought court approval to fill the temporary staff positions at a maximum cost of $2,500.
“I want to look into some matters, some issues that need to be examined and answered as a part of this case,” McCrum told the American-Statesman. “It will be cheaper for an investigator and a researcher to do it, and will keep me from being a witness in the case if I do the research myself.”
McCrum, a former assistant U.S. attorney who is now a criminal defense attorney, said the staff positions will begin work as soon as Senior District Judge Bert Richardson of San Antonio approves the hiring.
The ethics enforcement unit at the Travis County district attorney’s office normally would investigate such a complaint, but the case was referred outside the county because the Public Integrity Unit is involved in the political drama over its funding precipitated by District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg’s drunken driving conviction in April.
As the special prosecutor, McCrum could have looked at the complaint and dismissed it as unfounded — or he could move to further investigate it, which he has done. If the complaint is eventually validated through an investigation, officials said charges could be filed or presented to a grand jury.
Craig McDonald, executive director of Texans for Public Justice, applauded the move by McCrum. “We’re happy to see that the special prosecutor is moving ahead to look into these serious allegations, as we think he should,” he said.
See here and here for some background. I don’t know about you, but I like having the opportunity to put “special prosecutor” and “Rick Perry” in the same sentence. Rosemary Lehmberg was no-billed by her grand jury, so she has one less thing to worry about. Perry, not so much, at least at this time. Texas Politics and Progress Texas have more.