The Latest: Ex-Gov. Perry says indictment proved 'baseless'

AP News
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Posted: Feb 24, 2016 3:25 PM

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The latest on Texas' highest criminal court dropping a felony abuse-of-power charge against former Gov. Rick Perry (all times local):

2:20 p.m.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry says the dismissal of the criminal case against him shows the indictments were a "baseless political attack."

But Perry also conceded again Wednesday that the charges hurt his short-lived 2016 Republican presidential bid. He said the indictment from by an Austin grand jury shortly before he left office in 2015 clearly had a negative effect on his White House run.

Texas' highest criminal court dismissed an abuse-of-power indictment against the former governor. Perry has been campaigning for Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz since abandoning his own bid.

Perry spoke at the headquarters of an influential Texas conservative think tank, which has previously named its downtown balcony the "Gov. Rick Perry Liberty Balcony."

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10:30 a.m.

A left-leaning watchdog whose criminal complaint against former Texas Gov. Rick Perry led to the Republican getting indicted says a "highly partisan court" handed down a gift in dismissing the charges.

Craig McDonald said Wednesday the ruling by Texas' highest criminal court was based on Perry's political stature instead of the evidence. McDonald heads the group Texans for Public Justice, which filed a formal complaint after Perry vetoed funding for Austin prosecutors in 2013.

Perry had called for the resignation of the Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, an elected Democrat, after she was convicted of drunken driving. He then pulled state money for public corruption prosecutors in Lehmberg's office when she refused to step down.

McDonald accused Perry of abusing his power. The nine-member Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is dominated by elected Republicans.

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9:55 a.m.

An attorney for former Texas Gov. Rick Perry says the onetime Republican presidential candidate is pleased that criminal charges against him have been finally dismissed.

Attorney Tony Buzbee said Wednesday he spoke with Perry shortly after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals threw out the last of two indictments against the longest-serving governor in state history. Perry was indicted in 2014, before leaving office.

Buzbee calls it a "shame that it took that long to get something as weak and misguided as this to be dismissed." Perry was indicted for threatening — and then carrying out — a 2013 veto of state funding for public corruption prosecutors after the Democratic head of the unit refused to resign.

Perry has been campaigning for Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz since abandoning his own bid.

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9:40 a.m.

Texas' highest criminal court says that veto power can't be restricted by the courts in tossing a felony indictment against former Gov. Rick Perry.

The 6-2 ruling Wednesday by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals likely ends the criminal case that Perry has partly blamed for sinking his short-lived 2016 presidential run. He was indicted before leaving office and has rebuked the charges as a partisan attack.

An abuse-of-power charge was the only indictment remaining, but the court ruled that the prosecution of a veto "violates separations of powers." A lower appeals court dismissed a coercion charge in July.

Perry was indicted for threatening — and then carrying out — a 2013 veto of state funding for public corruption prosecutors after the Democratic head of the unit refused to resign.

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9:05 a.m.

Texas' highest criminal court has dismissed the second and final felony charge against former Gov. Rick Perry, likely ending a case the Republican says helped sink his short-lived 2016 presidential run.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Wednesday voided an abuse-of-power charge. A lower appeals court dismissed a coercion charge against Perry in July.

Perry was indicted by an Austin grand jury in 2014. He called the case politically motivated, but the Republican trial judge refused to dismiss it on constitutional grounds, prompting Perry's appeals.

The charges stem from Perry publicly threatening, and then carrying out, a veto of state funding for public corruption prosecutors after the Democratic head of the unit rebuffed Perry's calls to resign after her arrest for drunken driving.