Texas governor Rick Perry has been indicted on multiple counts of felony abuse of power by a grand jury over his attempts at de-funding the state prosecutor’s office that had been investigating him on earlier possible acts of corruption. These are not impeachment charges, but instead they’re charges brought by the court system, meaning Perry may go on trial before a judge and jury just as any regular citizen charged with a felony would. And he could end up going to jail, as the crimes he’s been indicted for carry more than a hundred years worth of prison time with them. So what’s really going to happen to Perry?
For multiple reasons, Rick Perry won’t be impeached or removed office. First, the Texas legislature is controlled by Perry’s fellow republicans, and they’ll be unlikely to vote to impeach him. Second, his term as governor expires in January and he won’t be seeking re-election, so any impeachment process – typically a long drawn out battle in congress – wouldn’t serve to remove him from office any sooner. But unless Rick Perry enters into some kind of plea agreement on these felony charges from the grand jury, he’ll likely be put on trial. And with the evidence against him being strong enough to convince a grand jury to indict him today, there’s legitimate reason to believe that a trial jury could find him guilty on one or both charges.
The prospect of a former governor going to prison almost immediately after leaving office might be too much for Texans to swallow, and public sentiment could sway prosecutors to offer Perry a suspended sentence in exchange for pleading guilty. But if there is a trial, his fate will then be in the hands of no one other than the jurors selected, and in such case there is a very real possibility he could end up jailed.
Various conservative republican governors have faced accusations of widespread abuse of power (Sarah Palin in Alaska, Chris Christie in New Jersey), been accused of steering public funds into their own pockets (Rick Scott in Florida, Rick Snyder in Michigan, Scott Walker in Wisconsin), and they’ve generally remained as popular with conservative voters, but none have any remaining hope of securing the republican party’s nomination for President. hile conservative voters seem to favor republicans politicians all the more when they’re caught abusing the power of their office, moderate voters tend to be turned off by such antics. In a 2016 field that’s still wide open on the republican side, Rick Perry was at the least a dark horse candidate for his party’s nomination. But today’s indictment likely means the end of Rick Perry’s presumed 2016 Presidential campaign. The question now is whether they also mean the end of his freedom.