Grand jury may investigate Perry veto of Public Integrity Unit

By: Matt McGovern Email
By: Matt McGovern Email
A grand jury could be seated Monday to consider a criminal case against Governor Rick Perry.

Governor Rick Perry

AUSTIN, TX (KXAN) - A grand jury could be seated Monday to consider a criminal case against Governor Rick Perry.

At issue is whether Perry illegally vetoed funding for the state’s Public Integrity Unit, which operates out of the Travis County District Attorney’s office.

The conflict began with Travis County's Rosemary Lehmberg’s drunk driving conviction last April. Perry nixed funding for the state office she ran, saying the public lost faith in her.

The Public Integrity Unit investigated allegations of wrongdoing by state elected officials. The office is still functioning, but no longer handles state cases.

After Perry vetoed state funding, Travis County Commissioners decided the county would contribute 1.7 million dollars to keep the office open, but only to cover local cases. The District Attorney’s office added $740-thousand out of a forfeiture account. No other funding is expected.

The Public Integrity Unit staff dropped from 35 to 20 employees. Some of those employees were let go, others reassigned.

Special State District Judge Bert Richardson is expected to seat the grand jury in Travis County Monday. He’s the same judge who called a grand jury last fall to consider the DWI case. That group could have also considered the Perry matter, but the term in which it could have done so expired.

Judge Richardson is also a Republican candidate for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

A grand jury’s work in a case like this could take several months.

Statewide corruption cases are now funneled through the Department of Insurance and the State Comptroller’s office, and then sent to the counties where the cases occurred.

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