A special prosecutor investigating whether Gov. Rick Perry abused his authority when he eliminated state funding of the Texas public integrity unit — which investigates government corruption and is housed in the Travis County district attorney’s office — said what he’s found so far is “concerning.”
“I cannot elaborate on what exactly is concerning me, but I can tell you I am very concerned about certain aspects of what happened here,” San Antonio attorney Michael McCrum said in an interview with the Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV.
In that same interview, McCrum would not indicate whether he thinks a crime was committed when Perry withheld $7.5 million in state funding from Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg’s office because she didn’t resign after she pleaded guilty to a drunken driving charge a year ago.
Asked by the Statesman and KVUE if his concerns pointed specifically at Perry or his staff, McCrum said, “Yes.”
Perry announced last summer that he would veto funding to the state’s public integrity unit if Lehmberg didn’t step down once the guilty plea was made public. Lehmberg didn’t resign, and the governor followed through on his threat, vetoing the two-year, $7.5 million in funding.
McCrum, who plans to present his investigation results to a special Travis County grand jury next month, could not be immediately reached by The Texas Tribune for further comment.
Lucy Nashed, a spokeswoman for the governor’s office, said Perry stands by his actions.
“As he has done following every session he’s been governor, Gov. Perry exercised his constitutional veto authority through line-item vetoes in the budget,” she said.
See here, here, and here for some background, and here for the KVUE story. As has been discussed before, the point of contention is not that Perry vetoed the Integrity Unit funds, but that he threatened to do so unless Lehmberg resigned. It’s the threat plus the demand that may add up to a coercion charge. I have no idea what will happen with the grand jury, but I do know that if you take a shot at the king, you’d better bring him down. I look forward to seeing how this plays out. Juanita has more.