Texas Republicans have been trying for 10 years to get rid of it.
As you can imagine, a totalitarian thug like Texas Governor Rick Perry, who has already ejected democracy from Texas, has a problem with any office that investigates deeds revolving around a lack of integrity.
Let’s face it: “ethical totalitarian” is oxymoronic.
It is no surprise then that Rick Perry now finds himself being investigated for abuse of office charges and coercion revolving around the Texas Public Integrity Unit. Here is what happened:
When Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg was arrested in April on drunken driving charges, Perry used it as an excuse to cut funding for the unit. He and other Republicans demanded Lehmberg resign. Perry even told her if she didn’t resign he’d cut $3.7 million in funding to her office.
Lehmberg is a Democrat. If she resigned, Perry would have the opportunity to appoint a Republican political hack in her place, someone more compliant to the corruption of his administration. Instead, inconveniently, she owned up to her error, served her time, and stayed on the job. And in June, as threatened, he vetoed that funding.
Coincidentally, as the Dallas Morning News points out, the Texas Public Integrity Unit had been investigating the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas — “one of Perry’s landmark accomplishments.”
Just to be clear: we are talking here about the Texas Public Integrity Unit investigating, says Lehmberg, “the alleged misuse of $56 million intended for cancer research that is suspected of going into companies with investors who support Gov. Perry.”
Gosh. Republicans misappropriating funds. That’s new.
Do you think Perry has a reason to want to see Lehmberg gone, and her investigations halted through a lack of funding? Raise your hand if you do. According to CBS’ Dallas-Fort Worth affiliate, the unit has already had to “drop at least 54 of its more than 400 active cases.”
Republican governors like Rick Perry – and that includes Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Rick Scott in Florida, tend to be pretty obvious in their employment of bullying tactics and they’re not particularly good at hiding their corruption either. But then, when has finesse ever been part of the bully’s arsenal, let alone that of the totalitarian?
Of course, Rick Perry said he was just holding Lehmberg accountable by punishing the people of Texas for one person’s error. He claimed the people of Texas had lost confidence in Lehmberg, that he “cannot in good conscience support continued state funding for an office with statewide jurisdiction at a time when the person charged with ultimate responsibility of that unit has lost the public’s confidence.”
What he really meant was that he was frightened that the allegations that publicly-funded research money at the CPRIT was mishandled at the new cancer facility, would be found out and he had to do something about it.
Perry’s spokesman Josh Havens said,
“As he has done following every session he’s been governor, Governor Perry has exercised his constitutional veto authority through line item vetoes in the budget.”
Much to Perry’s horror then, is the announcement by San Antonio Judge Robert Richardson that he is appointing a special investigator – “attorney pro tem” – to look into a complaint filed by watchdog group Texans for Public Justice, who are accusing the governor of coercion of a public servant, bribery, abuse of official capacity, and official oppression.
The executive director of Texas for Public Justice, Craig McDonald, says that,
Gov. Perry violated the Texas Penal Code by communicating offers and threats under which he would exercise his official discretion to veto the appropriation.
McDonald says that Perry was within his rights to demand Lehmberg step down over her DWI conviction, but to say instead, “if you quit your job, I’ll give your office $7.5 million [over two years] — that’s clearly bribery or coercion.
The special investigator could ultimately refer his findings to a grand jury, which in turn could lead to what Perry wants to see least: Republicans being subpoenaed.
It is to be hoped that this will be a lesson to Republican governors of where totalitarian tendencies could ultimately lead. It is only a shame we do not see more investigations of this sort, because the democratic process has been brought to a screeching halt not only in Rick Perry’s Texas, but in Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, and elsewhere.
We have to be diligent, because Republican governors like Rick Perry want to bring – along with totalitarianism – their own particular style of corruption to the biggest stage of all: the office of the presidency.