Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, arrested and charged with drunken driving overnight, plans to remain in office and will not resign, according to a spokeswoman.
According to county records, Lehmberg, 63, was arrested by Travis County deputies in Northern Travis County near RM 2222 and FM 620 and booked into the county jail shortly after 2 a.m.
An arrest affidavit was not clear whether she took a breath test. She told deputies that she had consumed two vodka drinks earlier in the evening.
Lehmberg had been released as of 8:30 a.m. today.
That was from Saturday. Lehmberg apologized on Facebook Saturday evening. Outside of whatever giggles one might get from the irony of this, it’s unlikely to be a big deal. Burka does note one angle of interest.
The DA’s office is home to the Public Integrity Unit, which has jurisdiction over crimes committed by public officials. Republicans have long hungered to get their mittens on the office, which has a history of prosecuting high-profile Republicans, including Tom DeLay and Kay Bailey Hutchison. (It has also prosecuted high-profile Democrats, including former speaker Gib Lewis, and, more recently, state representative Kino Flores. If the office were to become vacant — say, due to Lehmberg’s resignation — Governor Perry would be able to appoint a successor, as he did in Kaufman County, and, of course, the successor would be a Republican. It’s too early to know how this is going to play out, but Republicans may be able to drive a wedge into a Democratic stronghold.
The Statesman story says that Lehmberg does not intend to step down, so this is likely a moot point. However, I think Burka is overstating the effect if Lehmberg were to resign. It’s true Perry would get to name a replacement, just as he would name a replacement District Court judge, but there would be a special election to fill the remainder of Lehmberg’s term (she was re-elected last year) in 2014, so the effect would be temporary. Since the power of the Public Integrity Unit is determined by the Legislature, I can’t think of anything that an appointed DA might do that couldn’t or wouldn’t be undone by the next elected DA. The only case being worked right now by the Public Integrity Unit involves a legislative staffer, so there wouldn’t be any Get Out Of Jail Free cards of consequence to issue. It’s embarrassing for Lehmberg, and assuming she pleads to something she’ll deserve whatever lumps she gets, but I seriously doubt at this time there will be anything more to this than that.