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Prosecuting Politics

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Prosecuting Politics

by DAVID FRENCH August 28, 2017, Issue

 In Texas, criminal law is being twisted to destroy officeholders


Something is very wrong with Texas politics. Its prosecutors have a disturbing habit of filing dubious criminal charges against Republican politicians—sometimes through complaints filed by angry Democrats, sometimes through complaints filed by angry Republicans.

It’s a sad and sordid story. In 1994, Travis County prosecutors indicted Republican U.S. senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and then—oddly enough—refused to present evidence against her at trial. Next in the crosshairs was Tom DeLay, then the majority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives. Travis County prosecutors actually secured a conviction, only to see it overturned by the Texas Court of Appeals in 2013.

Governor Rick Perry’s turn came in 2014. The Travis County district attorney (for those keeping score, Travis County covers the Austin urban area—one of the bluest sections of Texas) obtained a “first-degree felony” indictment against Perry for alleged “abuse of official capacity.” His alleged crimes? Threatening to veto funding for the state’s “Public Integrity Unit” and attempting to remove the Travis County district attorney from office after she was arrested for drunk driving. In other words, the governor was doing his job. The case dragged on for almost 18 months, until a court dismissed the last remaining charge in 2016. :snip: 

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