Perry Takes The Perp Walk

perry2Yesterday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry turned himself in response to the indictment for alleged abuse of power. Regardless of how you feel about Perry, he takes a damn good mug shot.

Rod_Blagojevich_mug_shotAs we have discussed in the past, there is always a debate with celebrities on how to appear in a mugshot. If you smile, you can be viewed as cocky or unrepentant. If you frown, you can look guilty. You know that whatever picture you take, it will be plastered around the world. Perry went the faintly bemused route and I think it was the best optics under the circumstances for a sitting governor. Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich went with a more determined look that came across like a trapped animal.

XXX _TOM-DELAY.JPG A CLJ USA TXAFP US-CRIME-JOHN EDWARDS A CLJ USA NCHowever, Tom DeLay and John Edwards took the same “happy to be here” look at their mugshot moments.

To smile in such a circumstance is no easy task.

As I have written on this blog and in a column, I believe that the indictment is factually and legally weak. The indictment dangerously blurs the line between political and criminal actions. It also raises serious problems under the separation of powers doctrine. This week, the New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post and a number of liberal figures also denounced the indictment as excessive or abusive. There remains some who cannot see beyond their intense dislike for Perry to see the dangers inherent in this type of criminalization of political decisions. As I stated before, I believe that Perry was wrong to veto the funding for this office, but he has a constitutional right to veto such funding (subject to a legislative override).

Forcing a governor to take a mug shot and appear in such a facially weak case is deeply disturbing. This was a case that should never have been brought with the simple use of prosecution discretion. Neither of these state provisions clearly put a governor on notice that such decisions could lead to criminal prosecution — nor should they. I have been a regular critic of Perry but I believe that he was wrongly charged unless the prosecutor has some incredible evidence (and a likely superseding indictment) in mind. I cannot think what that evidence would be however. Perry publicly threatened to veto funding after the incarceration of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg. I believe that there is a strong case for dismissal to put before the court as a threshold legal matter.

This office has had a questionable history of prosecutions, including the charging of former U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison two decades ago (this case is being brought under the authority of the office but through an outside special prosecutor). She was charged with using state employees to plan her Christmas vacation in Colorado and write thank-you notes. The case was so weak that it took only 30 minutes for the jury to find her not guilty on all charges. It was a manifestly weak case that should not have been brought. This case presents the same concern in stretching these provisions to breaking point to criminalize the threat and the veto of the appropriations line.

210 thoughts on “Perry Takes The Perp Walk”

  1. Paul s, Seems like most of the Texas newspapers are not too fond of him. Guess they know him better than the NYT.

  2. Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has hired Steve Schmidt to assist with strategy in fighting criminal charges against him for abuse of power, as first reported by Politico.

    Schmidt, a longtime Republican strategist, was a senior campaign adviser and strategist in John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.

    The move is the latest in a series of high-profile hires to Perry’s legal team, which suggest that the rumored 2016 presidential hopeful is taking the indictment very seriously.

    He recently hired Ben Ginsberg, a former George W. Bush lawyer, and Mark Fabiani, a former Bill Clinton lawyer and Al Gore’s 2000 campaign spokesman. Ginsberg and Fabiani were key figures, on opposing sides, during the 2000 recount.

    Evan Smith, the editor-in-chief of the Texas Tribune, dubbed it an “Ocean’s Eleven-style” legal team.” TPM

    1. SWM – why do I get the impression that the Texas Tribune does not like Gov. Perry?

    1. Nick, about the T-shirt, yeah, so funny. I was LOL when I saw that.

      You know, I have always been a bit suspicious and untrusting of Perry. I kind of categorize him in the Joe Biden or Dan Quayle category if you know what I mean. This whole event has actually worked toward raising my opinion of him.

  3. Yes, if want you want to find out more about the Perry case, read the Texas newspapers and quit listening to the beltway pundits.

  4. “When most people get indicted on felony charges, it’s a bad time. Things start bad, and they stay bad. When Gov. Rick Perry got indicted on two felony counts, it kicked off a pretty great week for him. It started with a loud and premature verdict of innocence by the national media, continued through a trip to get ice cream, and ended in Washington, D.C. with a number of meetings with East Asian ambassadors. It was quite a show.

    But unless Perry’s lawyers quickly quash the indictments, the rest of this process probably won’t go as smoothly. Perry needs to keep his core narrative about the indictments intact until the charges resolve themselves, and that’s going to be difficult to do as the case rumbles on. We’re likely to face a trickle—possibly a torrent—of new information, not only about Perry’s actions around the veto, but also his tenure as governor in general.

    Separately, the story of the indictments is set to give new life to old stories about Perry’s improprieties, in much the same way Chris Christie’s bridge-related indiscretions gave rise to a narrative about his temper and vindictiveness toward political opponents. And Perry’s personality—best suited to offense—was well tailored to the first stage of this ordeal, but may trip him up going forward.”


    “Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) could use all the help he could get as he seeks re-election, currently trailing his Democratic opponent by 15.5 percentage points, according to TPM’s PollTracker average. But even he has limits, which now apparently include Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) after Perry’s indictment on abuse of power charges.

    Corbett’s campaign pulled the video of Perry’s endorsement for Corbett from its website, the Associated Press reported last week. A spokesperson told the AP that the campaign didn’t want Perry’s indictment to be a distraction.”

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