The notion of politicians being viewed as criminals is nothing new. Our country’s history is filled with stories of elected officials who altered ballot counts and stole money and did drugs and bribed voters and occasionally even murdered. Even in the state of Texas, our politicians have not found themselves immune from charges of wrongdoing in recent years. What is unusual, however, is for a longstanding sitting governor to be indicted on federal charges. In fact, it hasn’t happened in our state in about a century.
Now Governor Rick Perry will spend the remainder of his time in office fending off felony charges of abusing his executive power. If convicted, he could go away to prison for a very long time.
This legal problem for Perry started last year with the arrest of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg on charges of drunken driving. She completed her sentence and returned to her job, but Perry did not think that, given her poor decision to drive under the influence, she was fit for a position in prosecuting the behavior of others and he asked her to resign. When she refused, the governor carried through on a threat to veto funding for the public integrity unit that Lehmberg oversees. This alleged overreach of his power led Perry to his indictment earlier this week.
The question that looms even larger than whether or not Perry will be found guilty and face any time behind bars is how this indictment will affect his possible bid for the Republican nomination as president in 2016. From all signs, his determination to fight the charges and declare his alignment with the Constitution seems only to have made him more popular.
At Bertolino LLP, we see men and women in our offices nearly every day who have endured tragic results due to another person’s impaired driving. We understand the consequences of this awful decision. Now we will wait with everyone else to see if drunk driving by one person will play a pivotal role in either the destruction of a political career or an advancement to the Oval Office of another.