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Inside Intelligence: About That Grand Jury...

For this week’s nonscientific survey of insiders in Texas government and politics, we asked about Gov. Rick Perry’s veto of funding for Travis County prosecutors — and the fallout.

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The insiders are split on whether it was wrong for Gov. Rick Perry to threaten state funding for a local prosecutor unless she quit in the wake of drunken driving charges. And they are split when asked whether Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg should have quit to preserve the funding for her office.

A special prosecutor has taken complaints about the governor’s threat and subsequent veto to a grand jury for review, but nearly two-thirds of the insiders — 64 percent — say this is a case of hardball politics and not a crime. Will it have any effect on the governor’s political future? Most — 60 percent — said no.

We collected comments along the way and a full set of those is attached. Here’s a sampling:


Was Gov. Rick Perry out of line when he threatened to veto funding for Travis County’s public integrity unit if District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg didn’t resign?

• "It diminishes public confidence and is a disservice to our taxpayers to use state funds on an organization led by someone who is both a prosecutor and a convicted criminal."

• "Perry can veto for any reason or no reason. Besides weren't Republicans interested in getting the Travis County DA out of state wide public integrity?"

• "Did you not see the video footage? Or the mugshot bumper stickers on Mopac?"

• "I doubt there was anyone within a thousand miles of Travis County who did not get the political motive"

• "If his actions were criminal then dozens of crimes are committed every legislative session. Although this issue has become a politically partisan one, there is sufficient basis for reasonable people to argue that Lehmberg should have been forced out of office by any leverage available. There is also sufficient basis for reasonable people to argue against the existence of the public integrity unit itself being housed in the Travis County DA's office. Perry will win in the court of public opinion on this one, everywhere except maybe Travis County."

• "'Out of line' doesn't really mean anything, does it. Certainly one would hope for better judgment in one's chief executive, but who's surprised. In any case, this is kind of what governors DO."


Should Lehmberg have resigned to preserve the funding?

• "Lehmberg's lack of personal integrity, her disrespect for the law, the fact that she threatened to fire the officers involved in her arrest and her conviction are just a few of the reasons she should have resigned."

• "No, Lehmberg should have resigned because it was would have been the honorable thing to do. And Perry should have been willing to do the honorable thing and appoint one of Lehmberg's assistants to finish out her term."

• "She should have resigned because she failed the Mayor Rob Ford test of public integrity."

• "Lehmberg should have resigned because it was the right thing for her to do - not because of a veto threat."

• "Absolutely not. She should have resigned because of her loathsome behavior not because of political pressure."


Was Perry right to follow through with the veto after she didn’t resign?

• "As the Governor explained when he took this action, the Public Integrity Unit is in no other way held accountable to state taxpayers, except through the State budgetary process."

• "It was within his constitutional rights to do so."

• "He would've looked weak if he had not followed through; all bark and no bite does not make someone tough."

• "Say what you mean and mean what you say. If he didn't follow through with his threat, his integrity would have been tarnished."

• "This controversy is yet another attempt by Democrats -- who cannot win at the ballot box -- to criminalize political activity by their opponents. It has a rich history in Travis County. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Tom DeLay and now Perry spring immediately to mind."

• "Not really a question of right. He had the political authority to veto the funding for the public integrity section Lehmberg's office and her behavior provided him the political opening to do so."


How would you characterize the threat and the veto?

• "Your survey omits the correct choice: Leadership and stewardship!"

• "Hardball politicking is part of our Texas DNA."

• "Depending on the lawyer, one may say criminal while the other says insignificant; most dome-watchers shrug it off to hardball politics; and the voters - this is what the expect - it's just commonplace."

• "Loaded question. Characterize the veto as hardball reform."

• "Threat was criminal; veto was not. He should have just done it without mouthing off ahead of time."

• "It’s on the border between hardball and criminal--enough so that it may well end in an indictment not no conviction."

• "Only those blinded by partisanship could actually believe this was a criminal act."


Will this affect Perry’s political future?

• "The Left is attempting to portray what the Governor did as criminal. The problem with their narrative is that there is only one criminal in this matter and it's Rosemary Lehmberg."

• "In modern presidential politics 'under investigation' seems to be a standard entry on many candidates' resumes. So, no, no effect."

• "Probably - why else would a special prosecutor raise the issue eight months later, post-Primary election, with a lame duck governor, who has Presidential aspirations?"

• "Depends on whether he is indicted."

• "Positively."

• "Ask Chris Christie if bully tactics can impact your political future on a national stage."

• "This is one of those outrages that the press will go nuts about -- but the public gets it. The DA was driving drunk. She should have been forced out."

Our thanks to this week's participants: Gene Acuna, Cathie Adams, Jenny Aghamalian, Victor Alcorta, Brandon Alderete, Clyde Alexander, George Allen, Jay Arnold, Dave Beckwith, Andrew Biar, Allen Blakemore, Tom Blanton, Chris Britton, David Cabrales, Kerry Cammack, Marc Campos, Thure Cannon, Snapper Carr, Janis Carter, William Chapman, Elizabeth Christian, Elna Christopher, Harold Cook, Beth Cubriel, Randy Cubriel, Denise Davis, June Deadrick, Nora Del Bosque, Glenn Deshields, Holly DeShields, Tom Duffy, David Dunn, Richard Dyer, Jeff Eller, Jack Erskine, Jon Fisher, Norman Garza, Dominic Giarratani, Bruce Gibson, Stephanie Gibson, Eric Glenn, Kinnan Golemon, Daniel Gonzalez, Jim Grace, John Greytok, Jack Gullahorn, Clint Hackney, Anthony Haley, Wayne Hamilton, Bill Hammond, John Heasley, Ken Hodges, Steve Holzheauser, Billy Howe, Laura Huffman, Deborah Ingersoll, Richie Jackson, Cal Jillson, Bill Jones, Mark Jones, Robert Jones, Richard Khouri, Tom Kleinworth, Sandy Kress, Dale Laine, Nick Lampson, Pete Laney, James LeBas, Luke Legate, Leslie Lemon, Myra Leo, Richard Levy, Ruben Longoria, Vilma Luna, Matt Mackowiak, Luke Marchant, Mike McKinney, Kathy Miller, Steve Minick, Bee Moorhead, Mike Moses, Steve Murdock, Nelson Nease, Keats Norfleet, Pat Nugent, Todd Olsen, Nef Partida, Gardner Pate, Jerod Patterson, Robert Peeler, Tom Phillips, Wayne Pierce, Allen Place, Kraege Polan, Gary Polland, Jay Propes, Ted Melina Raab, Karen Reagan, Patrick Reinhart, David Reynolds, Carl Richie, Kim Ross, Jeff Rotkoff, Grant Ruckel, Jason Sabo, Luis Saenz, Andy Sansom, Jim Sartwelle, Barbara Schlief, Stan Schlueter, Bruce Scott, Robert Scott, Ben Sebree, Christopher Shields, Jason Skaggs, Ed Small, Larry Soward, Dennis Speight, Tom Spilman, Jason Stanford, Bill Stevens, Bob Strauser, Colin Strother, Michael Quinn Sullivan, Sherry Sylvester, Jay Thompson, Trey Trainor, Vicki Truitt, John Weaver, Ware Wendell, Ken Whalen, David White, Darren Whitehurst, Seth Winick, Peck Young, Angelo Zottarelli.

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