A Lehmberg-gate update

The Houston Chronicle infuses yet another detail into the ongoing saga about Rick Perry, Rosemary Lehmberg and the grand jury. If you are unfamiliar, you have come to the right place! Let me bring everyone up to speed in the next few paragraphs.

Rosemary Lehmberg is the District County of Travis County, where Austin (the State capital) is. By virtue of housing the seat of government, this specific DA’s office has unparalleled power to investigate State officials through an office known as the Public Integrity Unit. This group is funded both through local funds and state funds, thus making Lehmberg arguably the most powerful elected Democrat in the State of Texas. Needless to say, the PIU has always been a thorn in the side of the (all Republican) statewide officials.

Then, early last year, Lehmberg got a DWI. To answer your question, it was certainly as bad as you’re thinking. She was belligerent, had an open handle of vodka in the passenger seat, and blew twice the legal limit on an intoxalyzer. Needless to say, most people were pretty outraged and demanded her resignation. The partisan problem with this, however, is that Governor Perry would appoint Lehmberg’s replacement until a special election (her term is not up until January of 2017). Accordingly, a bit of a tense situation built up between the two officeholders.

This flare-up came to a head in early June, when Governor Perry publicly threatened to place a line-item veto on the budget bill in order to eviscerate the Public Integrity Unit’s funding unless Lehmberg resigned. She didn’t resign, and Perry vetoed the funding.

The issue is not that the Travis County DA’s office went under. The locality found some money somewhere for that purpose, but that wasn’t the problem. A lawsuit was soon filed accusing Perry of corruption and bribery. In the latter premise, the argument would go that Perry offered financial remuneration in exchange for a public official doing something.

In the many months following, not much happened. A special prosecutor was appointed, a visiting Judge took charge and a grand jury was even recently empaneled. In recent days, however, the story grew legs as it was revealed that some in the Governor’s office offered Lehmberg a new job in the office in exchange for her resignation, as well as a promise for one of her top lieutenants to take her place. THAT, my friends, is getting into a very dicey setting with regard to laws.

Anyways, the news tonight is that Perry has categorically denied initiating any of those dealings.

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