An amended indictment against Rick Perry is "woefully deficient" and should be rejected because it fails to allege a crime was committed when the former governor vetoed funds to the Travis County district attorney's office nearly two years ago, his attorneys said in a court document filed Monday.
"Governor Perry, as a matter of law, acted within his capacity as Governor when he deliberated with his staff regarding the exercise of his veto and any negotiations regarding that potential veto, directly or through his staff," the defense team argued in its supplemental motion to quash an indictment amended on Feb. 13.
On Aug. 15, Perry was indicted on two charges while governor — abuse of power and coercion of a public official — after he threatened to veto funding for the state’s public integrity unit unless Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg, who had pleaded guilty to drunken driving, resigned. Perry later followed up on the threat, vetoing the approximately $3.7 million per year budgeted to fund the unit.
Special prosecutors Mike McCrum and David Gonzales filed the amended indictment with a substantial tweak to the count of coercion of a public official, in which they emphasized that Perry had made an "unlawful threat to veto" state funds in an attempt to persuade Lehmberg to step down from office after her drunken driving arrest.
But Perry's defense lawyers pressed that any action Perry made was within his power as governor.
"Moreover, the proposed amendment's inclusion of the word 'unlawful' in describing the alleged threat cannot transform Governor Perry's 'official action' into an 'unofficial action," the defense team filing stated.