Maybe Rick Perry should have read up on his indictment charges before he started using them as a campaign talking point. During a speech last week, the Texas governor said he was being indicted for bribery, which isn't actually true.
“I’ve been indicted by that same body now for I think two counts, one of bribery, which I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t really understand the details here," he said, according to the Houston Chronicle. But Perry is actually being indicted for abuse of power and coercing a public official, after he threatened to veto District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg's budget if she refused to resign after her drunk driving conviction.
This is another oops moment for Perry, but it also signaled his transition into the 5th and, likely for him, final stage of indictment related grief: confusion. After grinning mugshot denial, angry ads "setting the record straight," bargaining over who should pay the lawyers and depression over a loss of Second Amendment privileges, all that's left for Perry is to be slightly unsure of what, exactly, people are accusing him of doing.
This is not the mugshot of a man who thinks he's going to go to jail for a possible 99 years for abuse of power (or at least it doesn't look like it — what Perry believes in his heart of hearts is between him and his spiritual entity):
Perry's lawyers asked a judge to toss out the charges, on the grounds that he was within his constitutional rights to veto funding for Lehmberg's budget.
Perry's lawyers called the lawsuit "banana republic politics" and even Democrats aren't convinced that this case is legitimate, so it makes sense that Perry's angry. He and RickPAC made that perfectly clear with their "setting the record straight" ad, which features more clips of Lehmberg being belligerently drunk than Perry setting the record straight.
There was a brief moment in time when Perry wanted the people of Texas to pay for his team of lawyers. According to the Associated Press, Perry said Tuesday that "he believes taxpayers should have picked up his legal tab but opted to use campaign funds 'to keep from having folks grouse about it.'" The Washington Post argues that was the moment he dropped the ball — just because you know people will complain if you bill the state for your legal team doesn't mean you have to say it out loud — but this is also a textbook example of bargaining. Perry traded a large chunk of campaign funds for the kind of peace of mind of not being accused of wasting tax money.
While under indictment, Perry will be denied his Second Amendment rights. As The Christian Science Monitor explained, Perry's concealed carry permit has been revoked, and the state doesn't allow unconcealed weapons in most public places. He can carry a gun at home, but that's about it. Considering this is the same guy who once shot a coyote while out jogging, this is probably the hardest part of the ordeal.
Normally this would be acceptance, but politically Perry isn't in a place to publicly accept this indictment as anything more than a political stunt. The closest he's come to acceptance is, as the Chronicle wrote, acknowledging that he is being indicted for something. What that something is — bribery? coercion? — is what he's paying the lawyers to deal with.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.