AUSTIN (KXAN) — The remaining felony indictment against former Texas Governor Rick Perry has been dismissed by the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas.
The ruling issued Wednesday effectively ends the case against the former governor; a lower court dismissed the coercion by a public servant charge in July.
At a 2:00 p.m. press conference, Perry said, “I’ve always known that the actions I took were not only lawful and legal, they were right,” calling the indictment a “baseless political attack.” In response to a question, Perry said the indictment had a “negative effect” on his candidacy.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed the abuse-of-power charge in Wednesday’s ruling saying,
“The Governor acted and he had the power to do so. The governor’s power to exercise a veto may not be circumscribed by the Legislature, by the courts, or by district attorneys (who are members of the judicial branch). When the only act that is being prosecuted is a veto, then the prosecution itself violates separation of powers.”
Perry was indicted in August 2014 on charges of abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant stemming from a veto of state funding for a public corruption division within the office of Democratic Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg. That came after Lehmberg, whose county includes Austin, rebuffed the governor’s calls to resign following her conviction and jail sentence for drunken driving.
Perry dismissed the case as a “political witch hunt,” while legal scholars from across the political spectrum raised objections about it. Still, the Republican judge overseeing the case repeatedly refused to throw it out on constitutional grounds, prompting Perry’s appeals.
Perry is pleased that the charges have been finally thrown out, said his attorney Tony Buzbee, who called it a “shame that it took that long to get something as weak and misguided as this to be dismissed.”
“It was a bunch of foolishness from the beginning. I feel bad for him because he was put through this for no reason,” Buzbee said.
The special prosecutor who secured the indictment against Perry has the opportunity to appeal the court’s ruling.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the indictment hampered Perry’s presidential aspirations. The Associated Press reports Perry spent more than $2 million on his defense team while his campaign “barely half that much in its first month.”
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.