Today's E-Edition | Home | Contact Us | Subscribe
Athol Daily News | Athol, MA
Click for Athol, Massachusetts Forecast
VOL: CCCXXXI No. 21 Serving the North Quabbin Region Since 1934
Athol - Orange - Royalston - Phillipston - Petersham - New Salem - Erving - Wendell - Warwick
Tuesday, July 28, 2015

home : opinion : editorial July 28, 2015

8/22/2014 1:11:00 PM
Politicians' spats don't belong in courts

Even in the no-holds-barred world of Texas politics, the indictment of Gov. Rick Perry last week was a low blow. A grand jury in Austin, a Democratic Party hotbed, indicted Perry, a Republican with presidential aspirations, on two felony counts for allegedly abusing his power. His offense? Threatening to veto funding for the county district attorney's Public Integrity Unit unless District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat, resigned. But the Texas governor has the legal authority to veto spending, which makes the dispute between Perry and Lehmberg essentially a political one. And the courts are the wrong place to settle political scores.

The Public Integrity Unit has long been a thorn in Texas Republicans' side, having brought criminal charges against then-Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (prosecutors ultimately abandoned the case) and former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (his convictions were overturned on appeal). More recently, it spent more than a year probing grant-making decisions by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, an agency that has been championed by Perry.

Lehmberg, meanwhile, had worked at the Travis County district attorney's office for 32 years before voters elected her to the top job there in 2008 and 2012. In 2013, county sheriff's deputies pulled her over on suspicion of drunk driving, and videos from the scene and the jail captured her intoxicated belligerence as she was arrested and booked. Although she quickly pleaded guilty to the charge, Republicans said her behavior showed she was unfit to oversee the Public Integrity Unit.

There seems to be little dispute over what happened next. Eager to oust Lehmberg, Perry zeroed out the Public Integrity Unit from the 2013-14 budget, but offered to restore the funding if she stepped down. Had Lehmberg done so, Perry would have been able to name a replacement, presumably a Republican, to run the office until the general election this November. Lehmberg refused.

This is hardball politics, and it's ugly to see a governor try to superimpose his will over the local voters'. But it's not illegal. (Nor, by the way, did the budget cut end the unit's work.) And yet the complaint that led to Perry's indictment at the hands of a special prosecutor and a Travis County grand jury accused him of nothing else.

The courts certainly have a role to play in stopping officials from taking steps that are beyond the bounds of statute or the Constitution. They do not, however, belong in the middle of a fight between politicians over policy or power. If lawmakers can't muster the votes to overturn a spending veto or repeal a law they don't like, they shouldn't run to the judicial branch for help. That's just as true for Washington Republicans aggravated by the continuation of Obamacare as it is for Austin Democrats aggrieved by the governing style of Rick Perry. They should find a way to win either the debate or more elections.

Even in the culture of Texas politics, the indictment of Gov. Rick Perry was a low blow.

(c)2014 Los Angeles Times 







Article Comment Submission Form
Please feel free to submit your comments.

Article comments are not posted immediately to the Web site. Each submission must be approved by the Web site editor, who may edit content for appropriateness. There may be a delay of 24-48 hours for any submission while the web site editor reviews and approves it.

Note: All information on this form is required. Your telephone number is for our use only, and will not be attached to your comment.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Required
Last Name:
Required
Telephone:
Required
Email:
Required
Comment:
Required
Passcode:
Required
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.
   


weather sponsored by


Advanced Search



LOGIN


Rate Card

Forms
Wiyaka Stories


WiyakaNorth Quabbin ChamberAthol Historical SocietyNorth Quabbin WoodsLife
Home | Subscribe
Athol Daily News, PO BOX 1000, 225 Exchange Street Athol, MA 01331
Contact Us (978) 249-3535

Software © 1998-2015 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved