Saturday, August 16, 2014
Governor Perry and DA Lerhmberg Play Political Hardball in Texas
Trial lawyers are one of the pillars of the modern Democratic Party. Democrats are quick to itigate. If they can’t win at the ballot box or before the legislature, they appeal to hopefully favorable judges. They treat terrorists as criminals to be tried in civilian courts rather than prisoners to be interned for the duration. Thus it will be a wonderful irony to see the Democrats hoisted on their own petard if the Boehner House of Representatives files its lawsuit against President Obama. A few Democratic prosecutors go over the line and bring criminal prosecutions against their political opponents. They attempt to criminalize political differences. The most notorious was Ronnie Earle, the District Attorney of Travis County (Austin) Texas from 1976 60 2009. Among his unsuccessful political prosecutions were Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. He claims to have prosecuted Democrats, but they were his political enemies. The Travis County District Attorney’s Office is the only DA office with statewide jurisdiction in Texas. It can prosecute crimes of official misconduct. DA Earle was succeeded in office by Rosemary Lehmberg, who we now know to be an alcoholic. A motorist called about an erratic driver on April 12, 2013. Travis County deputies pulled her car over. She tested at a .23 blood alcohol level, had an open bottle of vodka in her car, was slurring her words, and could not walk in a straight line. She had also been driving the wrong way down an Austin street. She was abusive to the officers, demanding they call the county sheriff, presumably to get the arrest dropped. The DA was arrested at 2:00am. She was further abusive in jail, kicking the door, and being placed in restraints. Both scenes are available on video. Store records showed she had bought 24.7 gallons of liquor, often expensive Vodka, over 15 months. She ultimately pled guilty and was sentenced to 45 days in jail. The DA was serving her term in office in jail. Governor Rick Perry demanded that she resign or he would line item veto the funding for the Public Integrity Office, which is in office. He would have appointed a replacement for her had she left office. She refused to resign, and he carried through on his threat by vetoing the $7.5 million budget allocation. Governor Perry stated: “Despite the otherwise good work [of] the Public Integrity unit’s employees, I cannot in good conscience support continuing state funding for an office with statewide jurisdiction at a time when the person charged with ultimate responsibility of that unit has lost the public’s confidence.” Was the Governor playing hardball against a prosecutor’s office, which had gone after Republicans for political reasons? Probably. We call it Chicago Rules in the Obama Administration. A liberal group filed a complaint against him. The response came yesterday when the DA’s office obtained a grand jury indictment of the governor for two felony counts of official misconduct. The short, two page indictment is available on line. Chief Justice Sol Wachtler of the New York Court of Appeals is famously to have said that a prosecutor could get a grand jury “to indict a ham sandwich.” A liberal prosecutor in Austin, Texas could get any grand jury to indict any Republican. The indictment consists of a first degree felony count of abuse of official capacity and a third degree felony count of coercion of a public servant. The first degree felony includes a jury term of 5-99 years and the third degree felony is 2 to 10 years. Governor Perry had every constitutional right in Texas to exercise his veto right. Absent corruption, courts do not like to delve into the motives of legislators or governors. It’s called “Separation of Powers.” Ray Sullivan, former Chief of Staff to Governor Perry, said “I think it will be a big deal with the liberal media – Slate, Salon – and therefore national media. It is beyond ridiculous that Travis County is pursuing the Governor, after letting the seriously drunk, police disrespecting DA stay in office.” National Democrats have stayed out of the fray so far. They know better than to mess with Texas. They’ve also probably seen the Lehmberg videos. Even David Axelrod, President Obama’s campaign guru, called the indictment “sketchy.” Governor Perry will not be hurt within the Republican Party by the indictment. DA Lernberg’s days as a DA are numbered.