Perry Exonerated of Abuse of Power Charges by Appeals Court

  • Texas court orders ex-governor's indictment dismissed
  • Ruling was `a long time coming,' Perry's lawyer says

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry fields questions on July 18, 2015, in Ames, Iowa.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry was exonerated by the state’s highest criminal court of charges he abused his power by vetoing state funding for an ethics unit when its disgraced leader refused to step down.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ordered his indictment dismissed Wednesday, too late to salvage the presidential campaign of the former candidate for the Republican nomination.

Perry, Texas’s longest-serving governor, was indicted in 2014 for allegedly trying to coerce an elected official into quitting and misusing state funds, charges that could’ve kept him in prison for life if he’d been convicted. He had sought the removal of a county prosecutor in charge of a state ethics task force following her drunk-driving conviction.

Perry’s lawyers blasted the indictment as a political witch hunt by Democratic opponents trying to undermine his presidential aspirations. Perry said he acted within his rights as governor to veto any budget line item he chose for any reason. After he was indicted, Perry said he’d veto the funding again to prevent the ethics unit from being run by a leader in whom he’d lost confidence.

“It was a long time coming,” Tony Buzbee, Perry’s lead lawyer, said in an e-mailed statement. “This case should have never be brought, and I’m glad the court put its foot down and ended it.”

Perry dropped out of his second bid for the presidential nomination last year after his campaign failed to attract enough donors or supporters in a crowded Republican field.

The case is Ex Parte James Richard “Rick” Perry, PD-10670-15, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (Austin).

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