A state grand jury indicted Texas Gov. Rick Perry on two felony charges of abuse of power late Friday afternoon. The charges, one count each of abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant, stem from allegations that Perry tried to force Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg to resign in 2013.
At the center of the issue is a complaint about intimidation stemming from Perry's threat to veto of $7.5 million in state funding to the Public Integrity Unit run by Lehmberg's office. The threat came after she pleaded guilty to drunk driving and served a 45-day sentence; Perry called on her to step down but she refused to resign her position. Perry then vetoed the funding for the PIU.
According to the New York Times, when Perry vetoed the unit in 2013, the PIU was investigating accusations of mismanagement and corruption related to one of Perry's landmark initiatives, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.
Perry's General Counsel, Mary Anne Wiley, released a statement shortly after the indictment. "The veto in question was made in accordance with the veto authority afforded to every governor under the Texas constitution," she said. "We will continue to aggressively defend the governor's lawful and constitutional action, and we believe we will ultimately prevail.
Perry, the longest serving governor in Texas history, faces 109 years in prison if convicted, according to KXAN.
[Image via Getty]