Texas Gov. Rick Perry has pleaded “not guilty” to felony counts that he abused his authority to try to force out the Travis County district attorney. Perry entered the plea in a document filed in state district court in which he also waived his Friday arraignment in the case.
The Republican governor was booked Tuesday, August 19 after being indicted on one count of abuse of official capacity, a first-degree felony punishable by five to 99 years in prison, and one count of coercion of a public servant, a third-degree felony carrying a punishment of two to 10 years in prison. Perry repeatedly has suggested the indictment is outrageous, saying he acted properly.
The waiver of arraignment, filed by his lawyer David L. Botsford, is dated Tuesday, August 19. Perry has hired a high-powered legal team to deal with the indictment and is keeping up a busy travel schedule as he eyes a possible 2016 presidential bid. Plans call for him to be in New Hampshire Friday, August 22.
The case involves Perry’s promise last year to veto funding for a public corruption unit overseen by Democratic Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg unless she resigned in the wake of an ugly drunken-driving arrest and guilty plea. Lehmberg served time but stayed in office.
Perry vetoed the money for the Public Integrity Unit, saying Lehmberg had lost the public’s confidence. Texans for Public Justice, a liberal government accountability group, filed a criminal complaint saying that Perry was wrong to use his power to try to force out a locally elected official. A grand jury indicted Perry last Friday, August 15.
TEXAS GOV. RICK PERRY TURNS HIMSELF IN; PLEADS ‘NOT GUILTY’