Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, has become the latest state governor to face criminal charges after an indictment was brought against him alleging an abuse of power.
Perry has dismissed the indictment as a “farce.” He faces two counts of abuse of power and coercion over a funding veto he imposed last year, which was seen as an attempt to force a local prosecutor to resign.
The BBC reported on how a grand jury indicted Governor Perry on Friday after months of investigations into his motivations for slashing funds amounting to $7.5 million to a state anti-corruption unit run by District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg.
The report stated special prosecutor Michael McCrum alluded to evidence that Governor Perry had threatened to withhold funding unless Ms. Lehmberg, a Democrat, resigned over drunk-driving charges.
The indictment stated the Texas Governor “intentionally or knowingly misused government property…with intent to harm another” namely, Ms Lehmberg as well as the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office.
At a press conference on Saturday Rick Perry defended his actions. “I wholeheartedly and unequivocally stand by my veto, and I’ll continue to defend this lawful action of my executive authority as governor,” Perry said.
“We don’t settle political indifferences with indictments in this country,” Perry added, calling the indictment “outrageous.”
Governor Perry, 63, is the longest-serving governor in the history of Texas. He is also Texas’s first indicted governor in nearly a century.
He is not the only present or past governor to have faced charges in recent months. The trial of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell is going on at present. McDonnell and his wife Maureen are being tried by the federal authorities for corruption and bribery.
They face a 14-count indictment alleging they took more than $165,000 in loans and gifts from businessman Jonnie Williams Sr. in exchange for promoting his dietary supplement company Star Scientific Inc. as well as its main product, Anatabloc.
At present a handful of state governors are in legal trouble. New Jersey’s Republican governor Chris Christie made headlines in the “Bridgegate” scandal, in which a huge traffic jam was created by the closure of lanes at the toll plaza to the George Washington Bridge.
Also, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is examining whether Christie improperly diverted $1.8 billion in tax-exempt bond financing from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for use on transport projects in New Jersey.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) is also under investigation for potential illegal activity during his campaign for governor.