AUSTIN (CBS Houston/AP) — Texas Gov. Rick Perry will turn himself into authorities Tuesday on charges related to abuse of power, CBS News reports.
Perry on Friday became the first Texas governor since 1917 to be indicted, and is facing charges of coercion and official oppression that carry a maximum sentence of 109 years in prison for carrying out a threat to veto funding for the state’s public integrity unit last summer.
Perry faces the prospect of being fingerprinted and having his mug shot taken when he turns himself in.
The governor has emphatically stood by his veto and denied all wrongdoing. The judge overseeing the case, Republican Bert Richardson, decided against issuing an arrest warrant and instead the special prosecutor appointed to the matter, Michael McCrum, was planning a simple legal summons. That still means a booking is in Perry’s future.
Buzbee said he didn’t know exactly when that would occur but that the governor has no intention of hiding: “That’s going to be something, that when he goes in to be booked and take his picture that we’re going to let you know about.”
In an email Monday night, McCrum said that Friday, as well as Aug. 29, had been discussed as possible dates for an arraignment. But he also said that Perry may waive his arraignment altogether.
Felix Browne, a spokesman for the governor, said no arraignment date had been confirmed — and that Perrywouldn’t need to appear personally.
A grand jury in Austin, a liberal bastion in otherwise largely conservative Texas, indicted Perry for carrying out a threat to veto $7.5 million in funding for the state’s public integrity unit after Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat, refused to resign following a drunken driving arrest. The ethics unit is housed under Lehmberg’s office.
No one disputes that Perry has the power to veto measures approved by the Legislature, but his threat to do so before actually carrying it out prompted a complaint from a left-leaning watchdog group.
The grand jury met for months before handing down its indictment, and Perry’s $450 per-hour defense attorney was paid using state funds. Buzbee said the public will continue footing the bill for the governor’s now-pricier legal team, though he said a private foundation could eventually be established to handle some of the costs.
Word that Perry avoided an arrest warrant raised questions of favoritism, but legal observers said forgoing an arrest warrant is common in white-collar cases. Former U.S. Attorney Matt Orwig said that insisting on an arrest warrant for Perry would have been “grandstanding.”
“He’s obviously not a flight risk or danger to the community,” Orwig said.
The public integrity unit also led the case against former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a fellow Texas Republican who was convicted in 2010 on campaign finance charges, but eventually had them overturned on appeal.
Dick DeGuerin, a Houston attorney who defended DeLay, said the congressman was originally issued a summons — and it wasn’t until DeLay’s legal team had some of the indictments against him thrown out that prosecutors sought an arrest warrant. DeLay eventually turned himself in and, wearing a suit and American flag lapel pin, smiled wide for his mug shot.
“It turned out to be kind of a glamour shot,” DeGuerin said.
Aides said the case wouldn’t prevent Perry from maintaining his packed upcoming schedule, which includes visits to the key presidential battleground states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina in the next two weeks. Perry also has a Thursday speech on immigration at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.
The governor is attempting to rebrand himself to a national audience after stumbling badly during his short-lived 2012 presidential campaign.
Potential 2016 presidential rival and Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie released a statement Monday saying he has “complete faith and confidence in Governor Perry’s honesty and integrity,” echoing similar sentiments from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, all of whom may eventually seek the GOP White House nomination. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said the charges “could well help” Perry.
“It is an attack. It also is coming out of a county where you wouldn’t expect even-handedness,” said Branstad, a Republican.
Conservatives also have been quick to note that a video recording made at the jail showed Lehmberg shouting at staffers, kicking the door of her cell and sticking her tongue out at deputies. Perry’s attorneys showed the “outrageous” video again while addressing reporters Monday.
Not everyone was backing Perry, though. In Pennsylvania, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s re-election campaign removed a video endorsement by the Texas governor from its website following Perry’s indictment.
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)