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Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014

Join the discussion: Is Rick Perry's indictment helpful or harmful?

Compiled by Bethan Owen, Deseret News

Published: Fri, Aug. 22 11:38 p.m. MDT

 Gov. Rick Perry makes a statement at the capitol building in Austin, Texas on Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014 concerning the indictment on charges of coercion of a public servant and abuse of his official capacity. Perry is the first Texas governor since 1917 to be indicted.

Gov. Rick Perry makes a statement at the capitol building in Austin, Texas on Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014 concerning the indictment on charges of coercion of a public servant and abuse of his official capacity. Perry is the first Texas governor since 1917 to be indicted.

(Jenna VonHofe, Associated Press)

Texas Gov. Rick Perry was recently indicted on charges of coercion and abuse of official capacity, according to The Economist. While it sounds disastrous at first, could these charges actually benefit Perry in the long run?

The situation began when Rosemary Lehmberg, the district attorney of Travis County, Texas, was arrested for drunk driving. Perry publicly called for her resignation, and according to The Economist, “many Democrats quietly agreed with him, although they publicly backed (Democrat) Ms. Lehmberg.”

Perry then threatened to remove the state’s Public Integrity Unit (The PIU was created to “prosecute insurance fraud, motor fuels tax fraud and government corruption,” according to Austin news network KXAN) funding if Lehmberg did not step down, the Economist continued. Perry followed through with the threat, blocking the authorized $7.5 million.

This is where the indictment charge stemmed from, although the Economist wrote that “The indictment is fairly cryptic, but it seems to be based on those statements and actions. The charges are coercion and abuse of official capacity; at issue, apparently, is the veto itself but also the veto threat.”

Abuse of official capacity is a felony and a serious accusation, but according to Ed Rogers of the Washington Post, “There is little question that the indictment is absurd.”

“But this indictment is bigger than just Texas,” he continued. “Concocted, phony and retaliatory prosecutions serve only to reinforce the public’s skepticism about the motives of our country’s political leadership and undermine the public trust. If we needed further erosion of the public faith in our government, this indictment certainly supplies it.”

Rogers wrote that whether or not this indictment works in Perry’s favor, it is a disadvantage to the country.

“By pursuing Perry’s indictment, the Democrats might actually do Perry some good,” he wrote. “But in the meantime, they are contributing to the further disintegration of the ability of our two-party system to create a government that functions.”

Rogers is not the only one who believes that Perry could benefit from this indictment. Noah Bierman of the Boston Globe wrote that “Perry’s clash with the law may prove to be a valuable selling point in his bid to run for the GOP presidential nomination.”

“This hurts the Democratic Party,” former Republican Governor of New Hampshire John Sununu told the Globe. “It shows how desperate they are to avoid talking about issues.”

In addition to potentially making the Democratic Party look weaker, “Mr. Perry looked strong and tough in his quick reaction to the indictment,” wrote Lawrence Kudlow of the New York Sun. “He’s been doing a lot of that lately.”

Others think that even if the indictment itself is insubstantial, it reflects poorly on Perry.

“No one is arguing that Perry didn't have the right to exercise his constitutional veto authority. He did,” wrote Will Hailer of USA Today. “But when Perry's threats to veto funding didn't work, Perry abused his power and attempted to coerce a public official.”

Saying that Perry’s actions went beyond “hardball politicking,” Hailer wrote that even if Perry “continues his behavior as a bully by threatening that ‘those responsible will be held accountable,’ that doesn't change the fact that a jury of his peers found enough evidence to bring the governor to trial.”

“Gov. Perry has betrayed his fellow Texans,” according to Hailer. “He has created a widespread culture of intimidation and corruption. It's time for him to step down.”

Bethan Owen is a writer for the Deseret News Moneywise and Opinion sections. Twitter: BethanO2

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1. FT
salt lake city, UT,
Aug. 22, 2014

The indictment is harmful if it keeps Govenor Perry from competing for the GOP nomination. His blunderous, uninformed, off the cuff statements defintely added to the entertainment value of the debates in 2012. Watching without Perry in 2016 may be like viewing American Idol without Simon Cowell.

2. 2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT,
Aug. 22, 2014

I think it's harmful.

Obviously he's the Governor of the State. The Governor (by Constitution) has the right to veto any legislation (even veto funding bills) without being arrested. If he has the right to veto.... he has the right to SAY that he will veto something if certain changes aren't made... and that's what he was arrested for.

It's not a criminal act. Arresting politicians for for doing things they have the right to do (because you don't like what they did) is setting a very bad precedent. Because I can guarantee you the other side will retaliate and do the same thing or worse to you. It's becoming a political gang-war mentality among the more rabid politicos out there. The "You sued our guy so we're going to arrest your guy"... kinda like the "you send one of ours to the hospital... we'll send one of yours to the morgue".

At some point we don't remember where it started (with suing Obama, impeaching Bush, impeaching Clinton, or Nixon).... and we don't even care... it just has to STOP. But neither side will LET IT stop...

3. 2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT,
Aug. 22, 2014

Can someone explain how it is "Helpful"?... I'm still waiting for somebody to try to make THAT case.

That should be interesting spin.

How is arresting him "helpful"? (I mean beside the help it brings by energizing your party base)

Especially when you arrest that person for doing something they have the authority to do!

Vetoes are not illegal. Talking about vetoes is not illegal. Warning the Legislature that if changes aren't made you will veto it... is also not illegal. It happens ALL THE TIME. Even right here it Utah! The Governor frequently tells the legislature he will veto their budget if certain priorities he wants aren't included.

What will happen if every time a Governor tells the legislature that he will veto a bill unless changes are made.... he is carted off to jail, booked, had his mug-shot shared on every national TV broadcast, and taken to trial???

Is that "Help-ful"... or "Hurt-ful"? I think it obviously hurts our political system (can't veto anymore) AND it hurts the individual involved.

Can ANYBODY explain how it is "HELP-ful"??

4. GaryO
Virginia Beach, VA,
Aug. 22, 2014

Well . . . It’s a mixed blessing.

It underscores the FACT that many Republican Politicians are seriously challenged when it comes to their critical thinking ability.

And since that fact is being demonstrated again and again by Republican politicos, sooner or later more discerning Republicans are going to realize that the Republican Party has gone over the hill and around the bend . . . Waaaaaaaaaaay over somewhere where no rational person wants to be.

That will result in them either leaving the Republicans to join the party of sanity (the Dems), or forming a third party, or in voting for Republican candidates possessing an intelligence and outlook more consistent with the Party of Lincoln than the Party of Perry.

So that’s good.

However, Republican “pundits” are spinning this to look like a victory for Republicans and a defeat for Dems; and the Republican base is actually buying it. And that’s bad, because it shows that a significant segment of America does in fact have little ability to think critically.

5. GaryO
Virginia Beach, VA,
Aug. 22, 2014

FT –

“Watching without Perry in 2016 may be like viewing American Idol without Simon Cowell.”

I know. It’s sad.

But maybe Romney will decide to run again.