Abbott Entangled
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Abbott Entangled in Perry Bribery Scandal

AG must explain Perry’s use of taxpayer dollars for his defense

Greg Abbott is now entangled in the fast spreading scandal over Rick Perry’s criminal efforts to threaten, coerce and bribe the Travis County DA—who also serves as head of our state’s Public Integrity Unit—into resigning her office. 
State Representative Joe Deshotel (HD22 Beaumont)—who is known by colleagues in both parties as a fair-minded and even-tempered public servant—has sent a formal request to Greg Abbott, asking for his legal opinion on the propriety of Perry’s use of taxpayer money to pay his high-priced criminal defense lawyer. Perry hired the lawyer to defend him against criminal charges that could stem from the Travis County Grand Jury now hearing evidence against him. As the Lone Star Project detailed last week, rather than pay his defense lawyer with personal or campaign funds—Perry wants taxpayers to bankroll his legal bills. 

The Lone Star Project cannot find any record of a past Texas Governor using taxpayer funds to cover the cost of criminal legal defense counsel so Perry’s actions, and Abbott’s acquiescence, are likely unprecedented.

Representative Deshotel's letter asks several key questions – the three below directly reference criminal actions.
  • Under what constitutional or statutory authority is the Office of the Attorney General authorized to either obligate or expend taxpayer funds in defense of a criminal matter for a constitutional officer of the executive branch?
  • If any actions taken by a governor, beyond his official capacity, that may constitute criminal offenses—such as bribery, official oppression, or coercion—under what authority, if any, can the attorney general indemnify attorney’s fees incurred defending those actions?
  • If any actions by a governor that may constitute criminal offenses—such as bribery, official oppression, or coercion—come under investigation by a grand jury or other such investigatory authority, and appear to not have been taken in an official capacity, under what authority, if any, can the attorney general authorize hiring private counsel for the governor? If the authority to hire private counsel exists, how would the Attorney General authorize payment for such private counsel?

Letter Asks Fair Questions, Deserves Straight Answers.

It is unlikely that Perry retained his defense lawyer without at least informally clearing it with Abbott. If so, Abbott will have to explain why he gave Perry the green light.

Moreover, Rick Perry is not just defending himself on charges related to having used his veto authority as a threat and/or punishment. News reports confirm that Perry sent aides on his behalf to coerce, threaten and bribe the Travis County DA into resigning as head of the Public Integrity Unit.

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April 25, 2014
Contact: Matt Angle
Paid for by the Lone Star Project
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