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Government/Politics

The Story Of The Other Texas Governor Indicted For Vetoing Funds

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Texas State Library & Archives Commission
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Rick Perry isn't the first Texas governor to stare down an indictment for his actions in the office. 

In 1917 the Travis County district attorney’s office filed an indictment against then Gov. Jim “Pa” Ferguson for vetoing the budget of the University of Texas.

Professor Don Carleton, who heads up the Dolph Briscoe American History Center at the University of Texas at Austin, described the political climate at the time as being a prohibition vs. anti-prohibition, rural vs. urban environment of political bosses, and Ferguson certainly was that.

“He felt that there were some faculty members at UT Austin that were helping his opponents and criticizing him in public," Carleton said. "He gave a list of the faculty members to the president of UT and told him he needed to fire all of these faculty members and the president did not.”

Ferguson then vetoed the university’s state budget of $1.8 million, a direct violation of the Texas Constitution. He was indicted, impeached and removed from office, which would have barred him holding in future offices.

“He thought he could beat that route by just resigning and therefore the impeachment didn’t count," Carleton said. "Texas court later ruled that it did, in fact, count.”

Carleton said Ferguson wasn’t the type to take “no” for an answer. Ferguson later, very openly, ran his wife Miriam “Ma” Fergurson as a proxy and won the governor’s seat for additional two terms.