Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s aspirations for higher office hit a pothole Friday when he was indicted by a Travis County grand jury for allegedly abusing his power and coercing a public servant. The Christian Science Monitor says he allegedly broke the law when he promised to cut $7.5 million for the public integrity unit run by the office of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg. Lehmberg, a Democrat, had been convicted of drunken driving, but refused Perry’s calls to resign.
Did Perry ax money for the public integrity unit, a kind of state government watchdog meant to enforce state ethics laws, simply because, as he said, “the person charged with ultimate responsibility of that unit has lost the public's confidence?” Or was it because DA Lehmberg was getting a little too aggressive in her investigations, including Perry’s administration? Nothing may come of it, and Perry's attorneys vow to fight the charges. In any case, Perry would have a steep uphill path to win the GOP presidential nomination for 2016. (On Saturday, Perry said, “We don't settle political differences with indictments in this country. It is outrageous that some would use partisan political theatrics to rip away at the very fabric of our state's constitution. This indictment amounts to nothing more than abuse of power, and I cannot and I will not allow that to happen.”