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Rick Perry indictment: Texas governor vows to fight charges of abuse of power

Texas Governor Rick Perry has vowed to fight an indictment against him for abuse of power, which he dismissed as a “farce”.

The indictment “amounts to nothing more than an abuse of power… I cannot and will not allow that to happen,” Rick Perry said.

Rick Perry, 63, faces two counts of abuse of power and coercion over a funding veto he imposed last year, seen as a bid to force a local prosecutor to resign.

The possible Republican presidential hopeful has denied any wrong-doing.

A grand jury indicted Governor Rick Perry on Friday after months of investigation into his motivations for cutting funds amounting to $7.5 million to a state anti-corruption unit run by District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg.

Special prosecutor Michael McCrum said there was evidence Governor Rick Perry had threatened to withhold funding unless Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat, resigned over DUI charges.

Rick Perry dismissed the indictment against him as a farce

Rick Perry dismissed the indictment against him as a farce (photo rickperry.org)

The indictment said Governor Rick Perry “intentionally or knowingly misused government property…with intent to harm another” namely, Rosemary Lehmberg and the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office.

Rick Perry defended his decision on Saturday, saying he had “exercised this authority to veto funding for an office whose leadership had lost the public’s confidence by acting inappropriately and unethically”.

“I wholeheartedly and unequivocally stand behind my veto, and I’ll continue to defend this lawful action of my executive authority as governor.

“I intend to fight against those who would erode our state’s constitution and laws, purely for political purposes, and I intend to win,” Rick Perry told reporters.

Rick Perry is the longest-serving governor in the state’s history and Texas’s first indicted governor in nearly a century.

Prosecutor Michael McCrum called up numerous witnesses to argue his case that the governor had broken the law.

The Texans for Public Justice, which filed a complaint in the case, said “the grand jury decided Perry’s bullying crossed the line into law breaking”.

Abuse of office can carry punishments of between five to 99 years in prison, while coercion of a public servant carries sentences ranging from two to 10 years.

His recent movements between key Republican battleground states is seen by analysts as laying the groundwork for a possible presidential run in 2016.

Rick Perry announced that he would retire from the Texas governor’s office instead of seeking a fourth term in July 2013.

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