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Texas Governor Rick Perry indicted for abuse of power

[JURIST] Texas Governor Rick Perry [official website] on Friday was indicted by a Travis County [official website] grand jury on two felony charges for abuse of power [indictment, PDF]. The jury charged Perry with abusing his power to intimidate former District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg to step down from her position. Lehmberg, a known Democrat, recently pleaded guilty to a drinking and driving charge and served 45 days in jail. Perry threatened to veto $7.4 million in state funding to the Travis County Public Integrity Unit, an initiative that investigates state and federal officials for acts of corruption, unless Lehmberg resigned [Austin American-Statesman report]. When Lehmberg refused to resign, Perry vetoed the bill. Perry released a statement [press release] in response to the charges, stating "I wholeheartedly and unequivocally stand behind my veto, and will continue to defend this lawful action of my executive authority as governor."

Governor Perry's decisions have often been scrutinized and deemed controversial in today's political arena. In July of last year, Perry signed into law [JURIST report] House Bill number 2 [text] which enacted three new restrictions on the practice of abortion. These changes require physicians performing the procedure to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles and the facility to meet ambulatory surgical center requirements, and reduces the allowable gestational period from 24 to 20 weeks, among more than one dozen smaller changes to regulations. Also in 2013, Perry vetoed a bill [HB 950 text] intended to prevent payment discrimination and make it easier for women to obtain equal pay.

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