Politics is not inherently a criminal enterprise, but you’d never know it by the headlines. Texas Governor Rick Perry’s indictment in Texas is another example of a political prosecution that seeks to criminalize common political behavior.
Perry has been charged with “abuse of official capacity” (maximum sentence 99 years) and “coercion of a public servant” (maximum sentence 10 years) for publicly promising to veto $7.5 million in funds for the state’s Public Integrity Unit, tasked with investigating public corruption and run out of the office of Travis County district attorney, Rosemary Lehmberg. Perry threatened the funds-cutoff unless Lehmberg–a Democrat–resigned her post, in the wake of her 2013 conviction for drunken driving. Lehmberg refused to leave office and Perry followed through with his veto, leading a Texas government watchdog group to file the complaint that led to Perry’s indictment
Oddly enough, it is the openness and transparency of Governor Perry’s actions in this case that have provided the basis for the criminal charges. Perry never hid his demands or brandished his blue pencil behind closed doors.