Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, was indicted Friday on felony charges of coercion of a public servant and abuse of his official capacity.
The two counts against Perry, a Republican, stem from his threat to veto funding for a public integrity unit run by Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg unless she resigned, the special prosecutor in the case, Michael McCrum, said.
The public integrity unit investigates public corruption on a statewide basis.
CNN affiliate KVUE reported that Perry will have to report to the Travis County Jail in the capital of Austin to be booked, fingerprinted and have his photo made for a mugshot.
McCrum said at a news conference that he would discuss that process with Perry’s lawyers next week.
Perry can continue to serve as governor while under indictment, KVUE reported.
His attorneys could seek to have the charges thrown out, a motion that would delay the case at the very least.
The charges come with Perry ramping up his political activity as he weighs whether to launch a second bid for the White House. He is scheduled to travel to New Hampshire and South Carolina in coming weeks.
According to McCrum, the indictment alleges that the circumstances around Perry’s veto threat amounted to a misuse of state money earmarked by the Legislature to fund the public integrity unit in Travis County run by Lehmberg.
The second charge alleges that he improperly used the veto threat to get her to resign following her arrest on a drunk driving charge. She stayed in office.
“I’m ready to go forward (in) my task as district attorney. In this case, the grand jury has spoken and I’m going forward to carry out the duties that have been bestowed upon me,” McCrum said.
“I feel confident about the charges that have been filed,” he added.
Mary Anne Wiley, general counsel for Perry’s office, said the “veto in question was made in accordance” with the authority “afforded to every governor” under the state’s constitution.
“We will continue to aggressively defend the governor’s lawful and constitutional action, and believe we will ultimately prevail,” Wiley said in a statement.
Political opponents of Perry, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, urged him to resign.
“Governor Rick Perry has brought dishonor to his office, his family and the state of Texas,” the Texas Democratic Party said in a statement. “We call on Governor Perry to immediately step down from office. Texans deserve real leadership and this is unbecoming of our governor.”