Republican presidential candidate, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks during a campaign stop at the South Carolina Military Museum, Monday, June 8, 2015, in Columbia, S.C.
Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/AP

Felony counts against Rick Perry drop from two to one

It wasn’t too long ago that former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) was indicted on two felony counts, but he couldn’t quite remember what the charges against him included. In one instance, the Republican said he’d been charged with “bribery,” which wasn’t one of the pending accusations.
But before Perry could get straight what he’s been charged with, his lawyers have apparently succeeded in knocking down one of the counts. The Texas Tribune reported:
A state appeals court on Friday threw out one of two counts in the indictment against former Gov. Rick Perry, handing his lawyers their first major breakthrough in the nearly yearlong case.
The 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin specifically found a problem with a count alleging that Perry coerced a public servant when he threatened to veto state funding for a unit of the Travis County district attorney’s office. The court left intact the indictment’s other count, which accuses Perry of abusing his power.
The funny part of this was Perry’s lawyer, Tony Buzbee, telling reporters on Friday, “The remaining count, we believe to be a class C misdemeanor.” He added that the remaining charge is similar to a “traffic violation.”
I can appreciate why the GOP presidential candidate’s legal team may be eager to downplay the allegations, but while Perry’s lawyers “believe” the charge to be a misdemeanor, it is not, in reality, a misdemeanor – as Rachel noted on the show on Friday, “What’s pending against him is a felony charge that carries a potential sentence of 5 to 99 years in prison.”
With that in mind, Perry is still the first major-party presidential candidate to run for the White House while under felony indictment, even if his lawyer prefers to think of a felony as a misdemeanor.
If you’re new to the story and want to catch up on the underlying controversy, you can find our previous coverage online here.