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Government/Politics

Governor Perry Pleads Not Guilty To Two Felony Counts

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Travis County Jail

Update (8/20):  Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s legal team are waiving their client's right to an arraignment and Perry has pleaded not guilty to both felony counts involving abusing the power of his office.

Perry is charged with abuse of power, a first-degree felony punishable by 5-99 years in jail, and coercion, a third-degree felony punishable by 10 years in jail. 

Perry continued to reiterate his innocence and said he was within his constitutional authority when he publicly announced he would be vetoing the state public integrity unit’s budget unless Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg resigned. 

Update (8/20): Texas Gov. Rick Perry was booked at the Travis County Jail on two counts of abuse of power.

Republican campaigns and political nonprofits stood outside the courthouse rallying a growing base of supporters closely following the events.

As Perry arrived at the jail in downtown Austin he was greeted by dozens of individual supporters, political nonprofits, the party chair and aides for various Republican elected officials.

Staying on point with his original message, Perry remained confident that he was well within his constitutional rights when he issued an ultimatum that he would withhold the state public integrity unit's budget unless Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg stepped down for a DWI conviction. Perry even said he would do it again.

“And this issue is far bigger than men; it’s about the rule of law, it’s about the constitution that allows not just a governor but every citizen to speak their mind free of political interference or legal intimidation,” Perry said.

Perry called his indictment nothing more than an attack on the constitutional powers on his office.

“There are important fundamental issues at stake and I will not allow this attack on our system of government to stand,” he said.

Upon exiting the jail, Perry thanked the sheriff's deputies that took his mugshot and fingerprints for their courtesy during the booking process.

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Credit Ryan E. Poppe / TPR News
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TPR News
Texas Governor Rick Perry outside the Travis County Justice Complex.

Perry's arraignment is scheduled for Friday, August 22.  The governor will not appear in court because he will be traveling to New Hampshire for a speaking engagement.

Original (8/19): At least one conservative group is planning to rally outside the Travis County Jail during Gov. Rick Perry’s booking this afternoon. Empower Texans is calling on Republicans to stand up and support the governor.

In an email to supporters, Empower Texans Executive Director Michael Quinn Sulivan wrote:

“We've written about the malicious prosecution by liberals in Austin, and seen the great support being shown by Texas Republican US Senator Ted Cruz, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and so many others, now we can not only sound-off in support of Gov. Perry, but stand up for him.”
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Credit Ryan E. Poppe / TPR News
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TPR News
Supporters outside Travis County Justice Complex awaiting Governor Rick Perry for his booking.

The governor’s office said Perry will go into the Travis County Jail to be fingerprinted and have his mugshot taken this afternoon. In a press conference Monday, Perry attorney Tony Buzbee said his client's booking will be a transparent process.

“There will, of course, be a summons and there will, of course, be a point where Governor Perry will have to appear," Buzbee said. "But that’s not going to be something that we keep you in the dark about. 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."

Perry’s two-count indictment centers around his demand that Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg step down for a DWI arrest or face a veto of the $7.5 million budget for the state public integrity unit, which is part of her office.

Late Friday, Perry was indicted by a special grand jury on two felony counts for abusing the power of his office and coercion. 

Perry is expected to make remarks both before his booking during the rally and after he has walked through the process.