AUSTIN (KXAN) — When word of the investigation into Rick Perry’s actions surfaced in the spring, well before last week’s indictment, reports emerged that the governor had hired outside criminal defense counsel.
Perry’s legal argument was that he was defending the office of governor, not himself, so his internal counsel was not warranted. Perry’s office hired Austin defense attorney David Botsford who is being paid $450 an hour.
The state comptroller’s website lists checks cut in June and again in mid-July showing the governor’s office has paid Botsford $80,000 for ‘professional services.’ Botsford reportedly appeared at the grand jury indictment hearing.
Meanwhile, Beaumont attorney and State Rep. Joe Deshotel (D) is waiting for answers on bigger questions. He sent a letter to Attorney General’s office in April requesting an opinion on whether the AG – in effect the state’s top lawyer – should instead be representing the governor in this criminal case, and if that’s a conflict of interest. Another question is if or when Greg Abbott formally gave the governor the green light to hire outside counsel.
A spokesperson in Abbott’s office said the attorney general is not required to respond to the letter until Oct. 22, six months after it was filed.
Deshotel also tells KXAN he believes Perry should pay for his own defense upfront.
“There’s no question he can pay for it himself or he can have donors pay for it,” Deshotel said. “He can organize a defense fund and have them pay for it. That is the way that I think that is should be done. And should he be acquitted, then of course he can be reimbursed by the state.”
Perry’s defense team includes a high-powered team of lawyers all boasting hefty resumes. During a news conference Monday, one of the governor’s attorneys, Tony Buzbee, said they want to be transparent and confirmed the taxpayers of Texas will have to pay for some of the governor’s legal defense. He went on to say those taxpayers should blame those who pushed for Perry’s indictment.
“Without this wrongful indictment, taxpayers will not have to pay for such a defense,” Buzbee said. “Which lawyers (will be) paid by Texas and other funds, that has not been sorted yet.”