AUSTIN (KXAN) — The indictment that sent shockwaves through the state of Texas on Friday began inside the office of a small public interest group. Craig McDonald, the director for Texans for Public Justice, admitted to being somewhat surprised when the news of Gov. Rick Perry’s indictment broke.
“We are pretty confident when we see something that is clear corruption so we were confident in this case, but I would be dishonest if I said we were not mildly surprised,” said McDonald.
Last June, TPJ filed their complaint in court when they first heard about Perry’s vow to veto funding to the Travis County Public Integrity Unit. The governor said he would veto the $7.5 million state contribution to the unit if Travis Co. District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg did not step down in wake of her drunk driving arrest.
“Our ears perked up. This is against the law. This cannot be. We researched the law and filed a complaint.”
Now that complaint is another indictment for the same group which helped bring charges against former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and has a current complaint against Senator Ken Paxton. The complaint against Perry alleged the governor broke four laws. A grand jury indicted him on charges he broke two. McDonald says the group will embrace any outcome of a fair legal trial, but say the message has already been sent.
“Not even the governor of Texas is above the law,” said McDonald who acknowledged Perry is innocent until proven guilty but believes the two felony indictment is a big enough blow to Perry’s leadership. He thinks Perry should step down either temporarily or permanently until the case is resolved.
McDonald was very complimentary of the legal process which he believes stayed down the political middle.
“The judges who handled this case and the special prosecutor are Republicans. Governor Perry appointed the head judge who appointed the special prosecutor in this case,” said McDonald. “Too often we have judges who act politically in this state and that didn’t happen here.”
See the extended interview here: