The Return of the Oops

Perry unclear on what charges his lawyers want dropped

Gov. Rick Perry, eager to see those
Gov. Rick Perry, eager to see those "bribery" charges dropped (*whisperwhisper*) … Oh, yeah, right.

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.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Rick Perry
Rick Perry, Lord of the Dance?
Rick Perry, Lord of the Dance?
Why would a former Texas governor go on reality TV? Why not?

Richard Whittaker, Sept. 2, 2016

Perry Will Walk on Charges
Perry Will Walk on Charges
Texas Criminal Court of Appeals rejects abuse of office allegation

Richard Whittaker, Feb. 24, 2016

More Indictment
Perry's Third Felony?
Perry's Third Felony?
Governor's war of words against jurors backfires with legal warning

Richard Whittaker, Aug. 22, 2014

Perry's Mug Shot
Perry's Mug Shot
Governor arraigned on two felony charges: Twitter goes dewy-eyed

Richard Whittaker, Aug. 20, 2014

More by Richard Whittaker
Toward the <i>Skylin3s</i> With Liam O'Donnell
Toward the Skylin3s With Liam O'Donnell
How the alien invasion franchise took the fight into space

Nov. 24, 2020

Austin Horror Crew Launch Bloodoath Filmmaker Consulting
Austin Horror Crew Launch Bloodoath Filmmaker Consulting
Paper Street creatives join forces with genre experts

Nov. 19, 2020


Rick Perry, Indictment, Public Integrity Unit, New Hampshire, Oops

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle