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Texas Gov. Rick Perry indicted by grand jury for alleged abuse of power in D.A. funding controversy

On Friday, a grand jury in Austin indicted Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) on two felony charges related to abuse of power, stemming from a threat to veto funding as part of an effort to force the resignation of the Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg.

Last year, Perry vetoed $7.2 million in funding for the county's Public Integrity Unit, which is in charge of investigating corruption by public officials. He first made his threat to veto the funding after Lehmberg was arrested and charged for drunk driving. Lehmberg pled guilty to the charges, but ultimately remained in office.

The Austin American-Statesman explains that the controversy then capped off many years of hostility between the Travis County D.A.'s office and state Republicans:

Lehmberg supporters said Perry's actions constituted political retribution; Many Republicans have said the Public Integrity Unit has unfairly targeted their party for prosecutions. The Travis County District Attorney's office has for decades been led by Democrats, including Lehmberg. Had Lehmberg resigned, Perry would have named her replacement. [Austin American-Statesman]

For his part, however, Perry has maintained that his actions were a legal exercise of the powers of a governor under the Texas state constitution, and that the state could not continue to fund such an important office under Lehmberg's tenure. If convicted, Perry could face several years in prison.