Texas appeals court to weigh felony charge against Rick Perry
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals said on Wednesday it will hear arguments on whether former Texas Governor Rick Perry should face trial on an abuse of power count, one of the charges that clouded his failed Republican presidential run.
The court set Nov. 4 oral arguments for the count of abuse of official capacity, a first-degree felony charge that can carry from five to 99 years in prison
In July, a Texas state appeals court threw out a lesser charge leveled against Perry for coercion of a public official.
Perry was indicted on the two charges in August 2014 by a grand jury in Travis County, a Democratic stronghold in the heavily Republican state, over a funding veto he made in 2013 that was seen as being intended to force a local prosecutor to resign
Perry first threatened and then vetoed $7.5 million for an integrity unit in the Travis County District Attorney’s office. Many said Perry played hardball politics to force out county District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat, after she pleaded guilty to drunken driving.
Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history, has maintained that he was acting within his powers when he made the funding cut. A special prosecutor in the case has said that Perry acted unlawfully to pressure Lehmberg, who remained in office.
Perry’s lawyers have sought for months to have the charges dismissed.
In September, Perry, struggling to raise money and languishing near the bottom in presidential opinion polls, became the first member of the crowded Republican field to drop out of the 2016 White House race.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Doina Chiacu)