By Jim Hightower
Lawyers will tell you that any good prosecutor could persuade a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich.
Well, meet that ham sandwich: Gov. Rick Perry. He’s a real ham — only not as smart.
A Texas grand jury indicted Perry, charging the Republican with official abuse of power. Specifically, he’s accused of threatening to veto all state funding for a public integrity unit. Among other things, that office was investigating corrupt favoritism in one of the governor’s pet projects.
Perry was trying to muscle out of office the woman who is the duly elected head of that unit, presumably to halt its inquiry. Leave office, he publicly barked at her, or I’ll take away all your money. She didn’t, and he did.
Not smart, for that’s an illegal quid pro quo, much like linking a campaign donation to an official favor. This led to the selection of a judge, the appointment of a special prosecutor, the establishment of a grand jury and the indictment of the gubernatorial ham sandwich.
Perry and his Republican operatives quickly denounced and even threatened both the special prosecutor and the jurors as partisan hacks who, in the governor’s words, “will be held to account.”
Thuggish as that is, the national media have mostly swallowed Perry’s hokum that he’s the victim, indicted for nothing more than exercising his veto power. It’s crude politics, Rick howled, as he turned his courthouse mug shot moment into a raucous Republican political rally.
Perry has hornswoggled the pundits, but don’t let them fool you. This is serious.
Again, the issue isn’t Perry’s veto, but his linking of a veto threat to his effort to oust an elected public official. His hamming it up about being a poor victim of Democrats doesn’t withstand scrutiny. The judge who appointed the prosecutor is a Republican. And the prosecutor himself was nominated to federal office by President George H.W. Bush and endorsed by two Texas Republican senators.
OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker.