AUSTIN, TEXAS – Texas Gov. Rick Perry will vigorously fight a two-count felony indictment returned by a state grand jury last week charging him with abuse of power, his lawyers said Monday, calling the prosecution “outrageous.”
The indictment has cast a shadow over Perry’s possible bid for the Republican presidential nomination, with experts predicting that legal wrangling in the case is likely to stretch into the 2016 election cycle.
A state district court judge set Perry’s arraignment for Aug. 29, but the hearing date was shifted to Friday, Aug. 22, due to a scheduling conflict, according to the Austin American-Statesman and other media.
Perry was indicted on Friday by a grand jury in Travis County, a Democratic stronghold in the heavily Republican state, over his veto of funding for a state ethics watchdog that has investigated prominent Texas Republicans.
Perry became the target of an ethics probe last year after he vetoed $7.5 million in funding for the state public integrity unit run out of the Travis County district attorney’s office.
The veto was widely viewed as intended to force the resignation of county District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat, after she pleaded guilty to drunken driving but remained in office.
Democrats have said Perry may have been looking to put an ally in charge of the unit, extending what they see as cronyism in his administration.