AUSTIN (KXAN) — Although Governor Rick Perry is now a defendant in the criminal case against him, his newly appointed attorneys went on the offensive during a press conference Monday afternoon. Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg and the indictment against Perry were the biggest targets.
“This is nothing more than Banana Republic politics,” said Perry attorney Tony Buzbee. “We don’t settle political differences in the criminal courts. We settle them at the ballot box.”
Shortly after introducing themselves to the media, the four present attorneys boasting hefty resumes played the video of Lehmberg’s April 2013 night in the Travis County Jail following her arrest for Driving While Intoxicated. The attorneys said her behavior had harmed the public’s trust and Perry used his right of veto to eliminate $7.5 million of state funding to the Travis County District Attorney’s office and the Public Integrity Unit.
But the allegations against Perry charge that although he had a right to veto the funding, he used the veto as a threat in an attempt to force Lehmberg to step down. The indictment said in doing so, Perry crossed the line into abuse of power and coercion.
“I am not sure there is any actual evidence (of a threat) other than a newspaper article,” said attorney David Botsford, another attorney on Perry’s team who maintains even if the governor did use the veto as a threat, it would still fall within his constitutional rights.
Buzbee and Botsford were joined by Benjamin Ginsburg, an attorney from Washington D.C. who helped represent George W. Bush during the 2000 Florida election recount. Bobby Burchfield, another D.C. attorney representing Perry called the prosecution “outrageous and inexplicable.”
The experienced team of lawyers will be paid for in part by the State of Texas taxpayers and in part by other available legal funds. Buzbee spoke briefly about how the defense team would be funded, but without much detail.
“Without this wrongful indictment, taxpayers would not have to pay for such a defense,” said Buzbee. “Which lawyers are paid by the State of Texas and which are paid with other funds has not yet been sorted out.”
Cameras and media members trying to capture Perry being booked on Monday covered the Travis County Justice Complex, but he never arrived. Buzbee said although he does not know when, the Governor would go through the booking process which would include a mugshot and the date and time would be publicized beforehand.
An initial court date has been set for 9 a.m. on Aug. 22, but has not been listed as an arraignment hearing. A $25,000 bond has been set. It court date was moved up from the 29th after a scheduling conflict.