A state grand jury has issued an indictment against Texas Governor Rick Perry, charging him with abuse of his office and coercion of a public official. The indictment handed down on Friday afternoon carries two felony charges.
The story began last year when a member of the state's public integrity unit pled guilty to a drunk driving charge. According to the Texas Tribune, Perry threatened to withhold millions in state funding from the unit, if the member, a Democrat, did not resign. She refused to step down, and Perry made good on his threat, using his line-item veto power to strike $7.5 million in funding for the unit from the state budget.
A liberal watchdog group filed the complaint against Perry, arguing that the veto was political retribution, which makes it a crime under Texas law.
The Travis County grand jury charged Perry with abuse of official capacity, which is a first-degree felony that carries a maximum punishment up to 99 years, according to the AP. The second charge, coercion of a public official, carries a sentence of 2 to 10 years.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s counsel responds to grand jury indictment pic.twitter.com/LwFzNEzC8N— Jon Passantino (@passantino) August 15, 2014