Yellow Dog Blog noted yesterday this Brownsville Herald article in which some State House Democrats have explored the possibility of starting impeachment proceedings against Governor Perry. Today, the Chron, Express News, and Morning News pick up the story as well. From the Chron:
"Clearly, I think Perry should be investigated for the things he's done," said state Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, one of the governor's more vocal critics.
State Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, said the dozen or so legislators who have been looking into the impeachment issue include some Republicans, whom he declined to identify.
Democratic legislators contacted on Thursday identified three main complaints that they believe need further investigation:
·The Texas Lottery Commission's hiring of a Las Vegas law firm to draft legislation to legalize video slot machines in Texas. The bill failed during the recent special session on school finance, and the law firm has so far billed the state for at least $176,743.
·Perry's remarks, in a private meeting in Dallas on May 13, that a lawsuit challenging the school finance law will fail because he knows where his appointees to the high court "stand" on the issue. The governor has denied discussing the case with Supreme Court justices, but detractors say it was improper for the governor to raise questions about the court's independence.
·An allegation by Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, also denied by Perry, that he had orchestrated a politically motivated audit of her office.
Gallego said that impeachment talk was prompted primarily by the Las Vegas law firm's hiring.
"The first question that people are trying to answer is if there is a violation of law here. If so, what are the sanctions? And impeachment is on that list," Gallego said.
"I would not characterize this as an effort to impeach the governor. It's an effort to get to the bottom of some allegations that have been made," he added.
Although Attorney General Greg Abbott's office approved the law firm's hiring, Gallego said there also are questions about whether the law firm should have been paid from lottery proceeds and whether the firm had a conflict of interest because it also represents casinos.
Perry's chief of staff, Mike Toomey, also recommended that a particular consultant be hired to assist the law firm, the Lottery Commission's executive director, Reagan Greer, recently told a House committee investigating the contract.
[Perry spokesman Robert] Black said the governor had nothing to do with the Lottery Commission's decision. He said Toomey merely passed along the name of a consultant he had been given by state Rep. Kent Grusendorf, R-Arlington, chairman of the House Public Education Committee.
That said, I think any public mention of the I-word now, whether intentional or accidental, is way premature and will probably serve to sidetrack the more serious effort to get at the truth of these matters since the whole thing immediately becomes cast as just another escalation of partisan warfare. The focus shifts from the allegations and investigations of potential wrongdoing to screaming headlines of "Democrats want to impeach the Governor!!!" It's hard to disagree with this assessment in the Express News:
"I think this is just an element of the increasing partisanship in Texas politics, and it appears to me that this is really a Democratic Party with few levers of power left for it to operate," Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson said.
"It is a party that is getting beaten about the head and shoulders and is frustrated against a very aggressive Republican majority" that controls the Legislature and all major elected statewide offices, Jillson said.
"At worst he was talking Texas bravado; at best he was just second-guessing what he hoped the court would do. Either way, I do not believe there was any misconduct by the governor," said Rep. Steve Wolens, D-Dallas.
Despite being a Perry critic, he said he does not see a basis for impeaching the governor.
"This might be a way that some would like to remove (Perry) from office, but he is no 'Pa' Ferguson, who was peddling prison pardons and withholding the University of Texas' budget," Trinity University political science professor Tucker Gibson said.
Not mentioned in today's accounts, and probably lost as a viable option to the Democrats now that Speaker Craddick has said he would oppose any impeachment effort, was this nugget from yesterday's Herald story:
At least one Republican state representative, who asked that his name not be used because of possible political ramifications, said he was studying the impeachment process along with House Democrats.
“I’m studying all the options,” he said.
I have the same general feeling about this kind of action that I do about the current grand jury investigations into TAB and TRM and the ethics complaint against Tom DeLay, which is that if you're going to take a shot at such a powerful entity, you'd better shoot to kill. The fact that Rep. Lon Burnam is a leader in this effort doesn't exactly fill me with confidence. I'll be happy to be proven wrong, but right now this looks to me like it'll turn out to be a whole lotta nada.Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 02, 2004 to Scandalized! | TrackBack