Two of Gov. Rick Perry’s senior Republican allies have stepped forward to support the Texan after he was indicted on two counts of abuse of power by a grand jury in Texas Friday.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal each issued public messages of support a day after Texas prosecutors said that Perry’s denial in 2013 of $7.5 million to the state’s public integrity unit amounts to an abuse of his official capacity and coercion of a public servant.
Perry, who is widely believed to be preparing a run for the GOP’s presidential nomination in 2016, has denied any legal wrongdoing, and called the indictment politically motivated.
Cruz, who would likely be one of Perry’s opponents in the 2016 race, voiced his support for the governor in a Twitter post.
Jindal, also a probable 2016 GOP presidential nomination candidate, called Perry’s indictment a political “witch hunt” on his official Twitter account.
Perry threatened to deny funding to a public integrity unit last year when District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, who ran the unit, was arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated in 2012. When Lehmberg did not resign, as Perry had demanded, the governor made good on his promise and vetoed funding for the unit. At the time that Perry vetoed the funding, the unit was investigating one of Perry’s signature achievements, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, for alleged mismanagement.
Perry’s camp points out that a veto of funding is within the legal powers of a sitting governor, and says that the lawsuit is a partisan attack. The central question in the case is whether Perry abused his power in order to coerce Lehmberg to resign.
Governors Chris Christie of New Jersey and Scott Walker of Wisconsin, also 2016 presidential hopefuls, have yet to issue statements.