The Return of the Oops
In the 2011 Republican presidential primary, Gov. Rick Perry crashed and burned after forgetting the third federal agency he would dismantle, "oops"-ing his way to ignominy. Three years later, and he can't even get straight the two felonies he is charged with.
Flash forward: Monday morning, Perry's lawyers filed a 60 page pretrial writ of habeas corpus with 390th District Court Judge Julie Kocurek. In it, his legal team claims that the section of the Texas Penal Code under which he is charged, relating to abuse of office, "is fatally vague and overbroad, failing to give reasonable notice to any official about what is permissible conduct on the one hand and what is felonious conduct on the other." They don't simply want to get their client off: They're arguing that the entire statute is a violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution: Special Prosecutor Michael McCrum has a week to respond.
However, Perry's lawyers may not want to presume that he will read all 60 pages of their defense. After all, he seems not to have finished the two-page indictment handed down against him last week, or even the Cliffs Notes version with just the felonies handed down. According to Arlette Saenz of ABC News, on Friday Perry was asked by reporters in New Hampshire about the grand jury indictment. He responded, "I’ve been indicted by that same body now for I think two counts, one of bribery, which I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t really understand the details here."
Where to start.
One, Perry was not charged with bribery. Instead, he faces two felony charges relating to the negotiatons/arm twisting behind his veto of Public Integrity Unit funding: abuse of official capacity, a first degree felony with a 5-99 year sentence, and coercion of a public official, third degree felony, maximum sentence of 10 years.
Two, it doesn't exactly take a Harvard law school grad to remember two charges. Especially if you're the one being charged.
That was not the only baffling Perryism of the week. Per John Reynolds at the Texas Tribune, Perry told listeners at the Americans for Prosperity event on Friday in Manchester, New Hampshire, "We need to look at the states, which are lavatories of innovation and democracy, reform." While that's not quite up there with his famous rambling 2011 New Hampshire stump speech/stand-up set, it's not great when his lawyers and, more relevantly, his campaign supporters, are trying to boost the idea of a seasoned, responsible leader who inhabits the moral high ground.
Maybe it's not Perry. Maybe it's New Hampshire. Maybe he should just steer clear of the maple syrup.