Next Score View the next score

    No arrest warrant being issued in Texas for Perry

    Governor keeps travel agenda

    AUSTIN, Texas — A judge is not issuing an arrest warrant for Texas Governor Rick Perry, a court official said Monday, and the Republican is planning to continue galloping around the country gearing up for a possible 2016 presidential run — despite being indicted on two felony counts of abuse of power back home.

    Perry on Friday became the first Texas governor since 1917 to be indicted. He is facing charges that carry a maximum sentence of 109 years in prison for carrying out a threat to veto funding for the state’s public integrity unit last summer.

    Perry has emphatically denied all wrongdoing.


    ‘‘This is nothing more than banana republic politics,’’ Tony Buzbee, a Houston-based defense attorney who will head a team of four lawyers from Texas and Washington defending Perry, said at a news conference Monday. ‘‘The charges lobbed against the governor are a really nasty attack not only on the rule of law but on the Constitution of the United States, the state of Texas, and also the fundamental constitutional protections that we all enjoy.’’

    Get Ground Game in your inbox:
    Daily updates and analysis on national politics from James Pindell.
    Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

    Linda Estrada, a Travis County grand jury clerk, said that the judge overseeing the case, Bert Richardson, decided against issuing an arrest warrant. Instead, Perry will receive a summons, which has not been issued yet. He eventually will have to be booked and fingerprinted.

    A grand jury in Austin indicted Perry for carrying out a threat to veto $7.5 million in funding for the state’s public integrity unit after Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat, refused to resign following a drunken driving arrest. The ethics watchdog unit is housed under Lehmberg’s office.

    No one disputes that Perry has the power to veto measures approved by the Legislature, but the veto vow prompted a complaint from a left-leaning watchdog group. Richardson, a Republican, assigned a special prosecutor to lead the case against Perry, who has been charged with abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant.

    Word that his attorneys were negotiating a court appearance raised some questions about favoritism, but legal observers said forgoing an arrest warrant is common in white-collar cases. Former US attorney Matt Orwig said that insisting on an arrest warrant for Perry would have been ‘‘grandstanding.’’


    ‘‘He’s obviously not a flight risk or danger to the community,’’ Orwig said.

    The public integrity unit also led the case against former US House Majority Leader Tom Delay, a fellow Texas Republican who was convicted in 2010 on campaign finance charges but eventually had them overturned on appeal.