. Gov. Rick Perry came out swinging in his first public comment since his felony indictment on Friday, telling reporters gathered at his office that charges of official oppression leveled against him are a 'farce.'
. Generally sticking to a prepared statement, Perry wasted no time Saturday afternoon blasting the indictment, which claims that his threat to veto funds for the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney's office after the embarrassing drunk driving arrest of DA Rosemary Lehmberg amounted to an illegal attempt to influence the actions of an elected official.
. "This indictment amounts to nothing more than an abuse of power, and I cannot, and will not, allow that to happen," Perry said.
. "I intend to fight against those who would erode our state's constitution and laws purely for political purposes, and I intend to win."
. Republicans have long felt that the Public Integrity Unit, which is a part of the government of very Democratic Travis County, exists as a vehicle to harass Republican office holders. Charges filed by the unit against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay were thrown out by an appeals court, and the unit tried unsuccessfully to find something to charge Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison with.
. When Lehmberg was arrested for DWI and then was videotaped in a bizarre rant against arresting officers, Perry said he would veto state funding for the unit, about $7 million, unless Lehmberg resigned.. When she refused, Perry followed through and vetoed the appropriation.
. "I wholeheartedly and unequivocally stand behind my veto," Perry said.. "It us outrageous that some would use partisan political theatrics to rip away at the very fabric of our state's constitution."
. "I am confident that we will ultimately prevail, that this farce of a prosecution will be revealed for what it is, and those responsible will be held to account."