Governor Perry enters 'not guilty' plea to felony charges: newspaper
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[August 21, 2014]
AUSTIN Texas (Reuters) - Texas
Governor Rick Perry, a possible Republican candidate for the 2016
presidential race, has entered a not guilty plea to two felony counts of
abuse of power, according to a legal document posted on Wednesday by a
Perry also waived his right to an arraignment scheduled for
Friday, according to the document, which was filed with the District
Court of Travis County and signed by one member of Perry's legal
team and was posted by the Houston Chronicle.
Neither Perry's office nor his legal team were immediately available
Perry was indicted on Friday by a grand jury in Travis County, a
Democratic stronghold in heavily Republican Texas, over his veto of
funding for a state ethics watchdog that has investigated prominent
Texas Republicans. He was charged with abuse of official capacity, a
first-degree felony, and coercion of a public official, a
Perry, who was fingerprinted and photographed on Monday, has called
the charges "outrageous" and politically motivated. He faces up to
109 years in jail if convicted on both charges.
Perry, the longest-serving governor in the state's history, became
the target of an ethics investigation last year after he vetoed $7.5
million in funding for the state public integrity unit run from the
Travis County district attorney's office.
Perry's veto was widely viewed as intended to force the resignation
of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat,
after she had pleaded guilty to drunken driving.
Opponents have said Perry may have been looking to put an ally in
charge of the unit, extending what they say is cronyism in his
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Michael McCrum, the special prosecutor who put together the case
that was presented to the grand jury, served as a prosecutor in the
administration of President George H.W. Bush, a Republican.
Perry dropped out of a gaffe-filled campaign for the 2012 Republican
presidential nomination but has been attempting a political
comeback. He gained national attention this summer for accusing
President Barack Obama of doing too little to secure the U.S.-Mexico
He will step down as governor when his term ends early next year.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Bill Trott)
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