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article imageOp-Ed: Ricky Perry’s brave words in a lost cause

By Martin Laine     Aug 18, 2014 in Politics
Up until Friday’s grand jury indictment on abuse of power charges, Texas Gov. Rick Perry had been successfully waging a campaign to reinvent his image from that of a buffoon which emerged during the 2012 campaign, to one of thoughtful intellectual.
Sporting stylish eyeglasses, dressed more professionally, he began speaking out on national issues and came across as well-informed, in sharp contrast to his 2012 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
Most notably, he criticized the Obama administration’s handling of the immigration crisis, and took matters into his own hands by calling up the Texas National Guard to help patrol his state’s border with Mexico.
According to an article in the New York Times, he recently formed RickPAC, a political action committee that will allow him to raise funds to support other candidates, and thereby build political alliances should he decide to run again in 2016.
But now he faces indictment on two felony charges handed down by a Texas grand jury accusing him of threatening to veto a Democratic county prosecutor’s agency budget if she did not resign her position following her guilty plea to a drunk-driving charge. She refused, and Gov. Perry issued a line-item veto to that part of the state budget.
That’s the barebones outline. There are several complicating factors.
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lemberg is one of the most successful prosecutors in the state, and her office includes a Public Integrity Unit which investigates public corruption charges, and has often been a thorn in the side of Republican politicians.
Last year, she was stopped and charged with drunk-driving. She pleaded guilty, and spent a month in jail.
Perry does not deny asking her to resign — he has no power to remove her — he says the public had lost confidence in Lemberg, and stands “wholeheartedly and unequivocally” behind his actions.
Somewhat behind the scenes during all this, is the fact that Lemberg’s office has been investigating the ties between the governor’s office and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, looking into the circumstances of several large state grants awarded to the institute over the years, as well as jobs given to Perry supporters, according to the New York Times.
Other governors with presidential ambitions, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, have both come under scrutiny for possible political misdeeds, but so far no evidence has surfaced that could lead to an indictment of either governor.
First elected in 2000, Gov. Perry is Texas’ longest-serving governor, and clearly enjoys a lot of support in his home state. Many supporters say the dispute is nothing more than political hardball, and that the indictments are just a political witch hunt.
That may well play in Texas, where he will always be remembered as a governor who kept his state prospering in difficult times and stood up to big government. Not so nationally, where he is not so well-known. Between now and the Republican primaries, voters will see him booked, a mug shot taken, and put on trial. Even if he is cleared of the charges, the taint of scandal will follow him, and just in case voters seem to be forgetting, his opponents will be sure to remind them.
Before the indictments,Even under the most optimistic assessment, Gov. Perry was a long shot in 2016, and now he’s an even longer one,
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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